June 09, 2003

Why Is National Review's Economics So Bad?

Matthew Yglesias drops his jaw in disbelief at the National Review's claim that Clinton was a big tax cutter:

Matthew Yglesias: Jobs and Taxes:

Jobs and Taxes

Oftentimes I have wondered how conservatives can persist in the belief that tax cuts will cure all economic ailments in the face of mountains of empirical evidence. In particular, there's always the embarrassing matter of the '93 Clinton budget which raised taxes and helped turned the economy around despite dire predictions of depression from the GOP. At last, NRO tries to come to grips with this awkward fact:

We have had four presidents in the past four decades of American history who signed major tax cuts: Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush. Although these men also raised some taxes, they stand out in history for their large tax cuts. [emphasis added]
Turns out that Clinton counts as a historical example of a big time tax cutter because he passed NAFTA which lowered tariffs. Well, I'm glad they've become Clinton fans over at NRO, but I think it's worth mentioning that there's a significant difference between lowering trade barriers (while raising some taxes on the wealthy) and endless cuts in income taxes at the top brackets.

Is what National Review claims true? Was NAFTA a *big* tax cut. IIRC, U.S. tariffs on imports from Mexico in 1993 were 3% of imports, and imports were running at $30 billion a year. That's $1 billion a year--or 2% of the size of the tax increases in the 1993 Clinton deficit-reduction plan that I helped make it through Congress.

It should be surprising that the economics peddled by National Review is so awful. Why, in God's name, should this country's flagship conservative magazine be reduced to printing drivel by the likes of Bowyer (who genuinely does not know that the NAFTA tariff cuts were a very small fraction of the 1993 Clinton tax increases), Luskin (who can't be bothered to read a whole February 2003 CEA study using the Macroeconomic Associates model), Moore (who either does not understand the difference between nominal and real dollars, or is doing his best to give the impression of someone who does not understand the difference). Kudlow (who knows that he is a "monetarist", but has no clue which monetary aggregate the Federal Reserve should be trying to stabilize). There are, after all, lots of very good right-wing economists in this country. Why is National Review reduced to printing oceans of drivel?

Why not get some people who are smart, who know some economics, and who can count to write? Rich Clarida. Glenn Hubbard. Bob Topel. Kevin Murphy. Bob Lucas. Larry Christiano. Mark Bils. Virginia Postrel. Steve Postrel. Brink Lindsey. Bob Hall. That's eleven. All vastly, vastly superior to the current crop of clowns--people who think that the recent tax cut will create 500,000 new jobs each and every year for the next decade, who think that a millionaire in 1900 is comparable to a millionaire today, or that NAFTA was a bigger deal for the U.S. economy than the 1993 tax increase.

It's a mystery.

Posted by DeLong at June 9, 2003 08:44 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Thank you Brad and Matt. This is only the tip of the iceberg. If only this could be done several more thousand times . . .

Posted by: Bobby on June 9, 2003 10:20 PM

Do they actually think that the tax cut will create 500,000 jobs or are they evil? I can never tell the difference between the stupid and and the Satanist.

Posted by: LowLife on June 10, 2003 03:34 AM

If you look at the item just below that on Matt's page you will notice a link to another questionable economist who's prediction are remarkably inaccurate (Glassman). To those of you who are better at Googling than I, what about those that gave the argument that we were in danger of paying off the debt too fast (Glassman's March '01 is especially alarmist). My memory has Vice Pesident Cheney using this line of argument directly, but I cannot find the quote.
It seems to me that using that argument, then 2 years later presiding over a budget report predicting 44T debt is an impeachable offense, at least with the new standard of what constitutes an impeachable offense.

Posted by: theCoach on June 10, 2003 04:24 AM

If you "turn the economy around" two years into a recovery, shouldn't it start getting worse?

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on June 10, 2003 04:33 AM

"Why not get some people who are smart, who know some economics, and who can count to write?"

For the simple reason that they would be able to both understand and explain to the National Review's readers just how disastrous the Bush administration's economic policies actually are.

In similar vein, did not Brad point out a few weeks ago just how few economic advisers to former Republican presidents have come out in open support of the recent tax cuts?

Posted by: Pooh on June 10, 2003 04:50 AM

Having just gone to a commencement, and watched the splendid processions in academic regalia, it occurs to me to ask 'What color hood do Boyer, Luskin, Moore et al. wear?'

Drab for economics, or crimson for theology?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 10, 2003 05:24 AM

Having just gone to a commencement, and watched the splendid processions in academic regalia, it occurs to me to ask 'What color hood do Boyer, Luskin, Moore et al. wear?'

Drab for economics, or crimson for theology?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 10, 2003 05:26 AM

oops...

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 10, 2003 07:25 AM

To be fair, I think Mr. DeLong should note the derogatory comments made by Mr. Frum about him currently also posted at nationalreview.com. I find it helps me cope with the propaganda disguised as analysis at nationalreview.com to believe that their primary mission must be to entertain and not to enlighten. The left will never be able to compete on this turf.

Posted by: Joel Rutstein on June 10, 2003 07:52 AM

I think you're expecting a bit too much from The National Review. Its a political magazine, concerned primarily with cultural politics and foreign affairs and only secondarily with economic issues. As such, it has a typical political magazine masthead - editors who are not trained in quantitiavive or rigorously analytical disciplines, but rather in writing, rhetoric, history, etc. And so they continue to publish writing on economic matters that's not very good, because they don't know any better.

You'll find in The National Review rather intelligent rightist commentary on things like stem cell research, culture wars in the academy, religion and society, electoral politics, etc. But economics isn't the magazine's strong suit and probably never was.

You'll find similarly bad economics in The Nation. Again, its a political magazine, and its editors just aren't equipped to do the math, so they publish economic writing that's non-sensical.

I also wonder if they right wing press was corrupted by eight years of rabid anti-Clintonism to the point where now there's an unthinking support of anything Republicans do and an unthinking criticism of anything Democrats do. The "Us" vs. "Them" mentality at many conservative publications is quite striking. I say this as a right-winger myself, as a warning to my left wing friends here: be careful that four (and possibly eight) years of rabid anti-Bushism don't do the same thing to your side.

Posted by: sd on June 10, 2003 07:58 AM

Would the 1997 capital gains and housing changes not qualify as a tax cut? Nafta obviously would not, but those cuts would. They threw Nafta in as significant, but in the last 50 years Clinton would go on the list.

If you really look at who benefits from capital gains tax cuts it's people who own and sell stock. I would think this is disproportionately rich people. The housing 0% tax rate on gains, IMO, is a larger cut and goes even more so to weathly(and old) individuals. Who has $500,000 gains on there house. Old, rich people in California and New York.

To say Clinton didn't cut taxes a lot is ignoring history. He didn't cut taxes for people's earned income in the current year, he cut their taxes for their deferred income over, in some cases, their entire lives.

Posted by: Chad Peterson on June 10, 2003 08:18 AM

What did we expect?

With Bush looking worse and worse all the time making real conservatives actually wish for someone, anybody more fiscally responsible er, like an that conservative Mr. Clinton. They’ve decided Clinton must belong in their group. Clinton was a tax cutter, yea that explains it, that’s why tax cuts are good cause look how well the worked for Clinton.

Is everybody ever going to vote for a Republican President every again after Bush? National Review had to lie and lie and lie to cover’s junior’s stupid ass. Bush was going to be the best thing since apple pie and baseball. Conservative stated out not comparing Junior to Al Gore but to William Jefferson Clinton and like Atrios is always saying, "JEEBUS" was that ever a mistake?

Is there ANY comparison?

With Bush’s constant BS along with the Republican congressmen’s “tow the mark tactics” which clearly represent lobbyist wishes and NOT individual state representation along with the entirely reckless and irresponsible management of the current administration telling one lie right after another, keeping their conservative news rags busy making up excuse for Junior’s utter incompetence and all the BS going on in this administration was it then any wonder that Bill Clinton somehow become a conservative who used “tax cuts” too.

This thing were Clinton wants to run for President again must be a lot more appealing to some of those “conservatives” than they like to admit as I’m sure they would line-up at the polls all the while bad mouthing the Clinton’s name as that put a check mark right next his name.

Bush has made such a big mess that we really need someone with experience who could hit the ground running in order to clean up the US’s image, put back the surplus, tell the oil industry to stop price fixing, put back the integrity of Wall Street and get people working again. Who knows, Clinton could might be able to salvage Iraq since I believe Bush will never do it.

At this point in time even the oil industry is probably wondering if Bush and company were not the wrong folks to represent them seeing as the Arab’s are nixing Western oil contracts now and Iraq is looking more and more like it’ll never be stable enough for a profitable business transactions.

Posted by: Cheryl on June 10, 2003 08:28 AM

National Review is not a conservative magazine, rather it is a radical magazine. This is the magazine that fought the civil rights movement with all venom. William Buckley was merely another pretentious Strom Thurmond. The tradition lives.

Posted by: arthur on June 10, 2003 08:50 AM

sd writes:

>You'll find in The National Review rather intelligent rightist
>commentary on things like stem cell research,

Huh? You mean they somehow can't find any decent economics writers but they find themselves knee deep in developmental biologists and experts in genetic engineering and so manage to be well-informed about these things?

OK, so I just did that search on the NRO site. Not a scrap of science in any of the commentary on stem cells that I could see. In fairness, I would not really expect to see anything well-informed on this topic in any political magazine, left or right. But I think it's weird to suggest that commentary on cutting edge biology would be well-informed at NRO when economic commentary is lacking, especially since economics is a more widely taught field.

Posted by: Jonathan King on June 10, 2003 09:18 AM

Cheryl brings up an interesting point. Bill sounds like he'd like to run again. He probably looks at Bush, and at the field of Democrats, and figures none of them could come close to whooping him. Here's the interesting part (my secret tabloid tendencies are coming out here). Would Hill be madder at Bill for cheating on her or for stepping in the way of her shot at the Oval Office?

Posted by: K Harris on June 10, 2003 09:21 AM

Thank you Mr. deLong for saying what I've been thinking for a long time now.

It does not behoove any IDEOLOGY to put its idiots on the frontlines, even if they are more "pure"

National Review has no problem telling the Bush administration that they should be doing more on Foreign Policy (like Mike Ledeen's endless agitating that we overthrow Iran).

Why can't they criticize Bush's fiscal policies...from the Right?

Again, thanks for putting into words what I had long been thinking. I will now go back to consistently disagreeing with you.

Posted by: Evil Right-winger on June 10, 2003 09:24 AM

Being not prepared to comment on the economic issues, I won't, but I will respond to this comment by Joel:

"To be fair, I think Mr. DeLong should note the derogatory comments made by Mr. Frum about him currently also posted at nationalreview.com."

Huh? You mean these derogatory comments?

J. Bradford DeLong is a professor of economics at Berkeley, a veteran of the Clinton administration, and the author of an extremely interesting blog about economics, history, and politics (recommended only if you are prepared to push past some pretty insulting comments about President Bush, his administration, and Republicans in general).

Scandalously insulting stuff, eh? The rest of the section is just him quoting verbatim what Brad says about Hillary Clinton. Come on guys. Looks like there's some blind propagandizing going on in lots of places...

Posted by: Russell on June 10, 2003 09:53 AM

Expecting the radical-right to allow criticism of the radical-right is absurd. Reading the National Review is listening to Rush Limberger is listening to Michael the Savage is reading Ann Smoulter. Unless you want to be them, why the heck bother?

Posted by: jerry on June 10, 2003 09:59 AM

This is Prof. DeLong's big day. Not only Nat'l Review, but Rush Limbaugh just quoted his "two-cents worth" on Hillary. Congratulations.

I'm only sorry I don't have the time to call in and give Rush a "I knew him when he was only a humble academic blogger" story.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 10, 2003 10:05 AM

Hillary is just Bill's wife.

I have never been impressed with her. She is famous cause she is married to Bill not because she herself is has other then that going for her.

Hillary has delusions of being of Madame President one day but when she talks it all comes out like "I vote for this resolution so we don't have to go to war with Iraq".

People don't know who Hillary really is but she opens up her month and they're going find out.
This book were she rehashes the old Lewinsky affair is something she should definitely leave in past. It may make money but it isn't good politics.

Posted by: Cheryl on June 10, 2003 10:42 AM

This NRO article discusses how foolish the steel tariffs were. It sides with foolishness, not malice, but is unfriendly to Bush policy.

http://www.nationalreview.com/murdock/murdock061802.asp

Follow the link to "Authors" and NRO has advertised that at least a third of its authors pertain to "NRO Financial." I disagree with the idea that NRO ought not be billed as an economic forum.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 10, 2003 10:46 AM

Two things about the NRO:

(1) They love to bash the NYTimes on this Jayson Blair thing even though NYT fired the guy;

(2) Bowyer's BuzzCharts are short versions of some of the most unbelievable spin I have ever seen. Longer versions can be found in the writings of Bartlett, Canto, Kudlow, and Moore.

I would think by now that William Buckley would have fired the whole gang.

Posted by: Hal McClure on June 10, 2003 11:00 AM

William Buckley is as looney and prejudiced as all National Reviewers combined, though the whole do compete in being looney and prejudiced.

Posted by: bill on June 10, 2003 11:44 AM

Come one, now, Brad! Put yourself in Bob Lucas's shoes! You pick up a copy of the National Review, glance at the economics section, cringe, and what's your next thought? Is it, "Ugh... I'm never picking up that rag again!" or is it "Ugh... How unfortunate that the National Review's economics writing is so bad! I must rectify this, giving up a significant amount of my time from academic career, reputation, etc. to improve this magazine!"

There's a certain positive feedback reaction. If you have awful economics writing, I don't think many good economics commentators are really going to want to work for you. I suppose the same could be said for any sort of writing, really.

Posted by: Julian Elson on June 10, 2003 11:55 AM

I should note that I make the above post, 1) using Bob Lucas as one example from Brad's list, of an intelligent right-wing economist, not talking about Lucas in particular, and 2) without any specific knowledge of Lucas's personality, ideals, etc. I'm just using him as a "generic smart conservative guy who picks of a copy of the National Review and reads Moore, Luskin, etc." For all I know, maybe his reaction WOULD be "I need to write for these guys to help them!"

Posted by: Julian Elson on June 10, 2003 12:02 PM

Smart Republicans wouldn't agree with the president 100% of the time.

"You'll find similarly bad economics in The Nation."

Are you sure? I'm looking at their web front page and I see:

1) An article about how "the militarization of US foreign policy hurts workers at home."
2) An article about "globalization and GMOs."

Neither contains any blatantly incorrect economics, near as I can tell. They're political, but they don't claim 1+1=3, and they don't write too much about economics.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 10, 2003 12:42 PM

It's not a devotion to Bush's economic policies as such that creates such hack writing. It's an absolute devotion to supply side ideas.

Posted by: Phil on June 10, 2003 02:52 PM

Jason wrote (about 'The Nation'):

"They're political, but they don't claim 1+1=3, and they don't write too much about economics."

Yes, but when they do, they get Greider or Naomi Klein to write it, thereby sentencing several hundred trees to a pointless death.

At least the American Prospect has some halfway decent economists contributing (like Reich, and Tyson was on their editorial board). But the Nation is useless on economics.

Posted by: Tom on June 10, 2003 02:56 PM

Phil is correct that NRO has absolute devotion to "supply side" ideas. But then what ARE supply side ideas? That one can cut taxes without cutting government spending and somehow promote growth? Or maybe it's this 'starve the beast' theory ... if you cut taxes, then spending will follow. Whoops - that does not seem to work. Or is it that if you cut taxes for the rich, some future President will have to raise taxes on the poor? Honestly, I do not know which version of this is correct. But then again - these NRO writers might honestly tell us. Oh never mind, I'm asking for too much here.

Posted by: Hal McClure on June 10, 2003 04:59 PM

Clinton signed a very large tax cut in 1997. That qualifies him as a tax cutter because no such tax cut would have been enacted over his veto. And one cannot argue that he was under irresistable political pressure because he was already in his 2nd term and therefore a lame duck.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett on June 10, 2003 07:45 PM

No one that understands supply side really believes in it. Supply side is like Santa Claus. The wealthy claim to believe it and pay their right wing shills to "believe" it because they like presents, not because it is true. The Bush administration is all about the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, so that America will once again have a ruling elite that will stand above everyone else.

Posted by: bakho on June 10, 2003 09:41 PM

Supply-Side Concepts in Brief
1. How Polyconomics Looks at the World.
2. The Importance of the Price of Gold.
3. Growth Does Not Cause Inflation.
4. Low Unemployment Does Not Cause Inflation.
5. How Changes in the Dollar's Value Affect the U.S. Economy.
6. Budget Deficits Do Not “Raise” Interest Rates and Surpluses Do Not "Lower" Them.
7. Interest Rate Cuts Do Not Weaken Currencies and Rate Hikes Do Not Strengthen Them.
8. Central Bank Gold Sales Don't Affect the Price of Gold.

http://www.polyconomics.com/showarticle.asp?articleid=1735

**********

Each point has it's own link. Polyconomics was founded by Jude Wanniski. Before you dismiss him as a crank, realize that he was an advisor to Reagan and is close to Jack Kemp. Wanniski and his ideas continue to have currency.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 10, 2003 11:18 PM

There was this wonderful discussion between Wanniski and Krugman in Mother Jones. Wanniski argued that the rich are much worse of now than 30 years ago:

"First let us get our accounting unit squared away. To measure anything in the floating paper dollar will get us nowhere. We must convert all wealth into the measure employed by mankind for 6,000 years, i.e., ounces of gold. On this measure, the Dow Jones industrial average of 6,000 today is only 60 percent of the DJIA of 30 years ago, when it hit 1,000. Back then, gold was $35 per ounce. Today it is $380-plus. This is another way of saying that in the last 30 years, the people who owned America have lost 40 percent of their wealth held in the form of equity. Do you understand what I am saying, Mother Jones? If you owned no part of corporate America 30 years ago, because you were poor, you lost nothing. If you owned lots of it, you lost your shirt in the general inflation."

Well...

Posted by: Michael Greinecker on June 11, 2003 01:48 AM

"Clinton signed a very large tax cut in 1997. That qualifies him as a tax cutter because no such tax cut would have been enacted over his veto."

Using the same logic, Reagan was "a tax raiser" because of the 1982 raise & SS raise. Please.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 11, 2003 02:21 AM

Isn't it fairly obvious that Clinton could fill the role as either a tax cutter or a tax raiser, depending on what the economic conditions and current status? Do you have any doubt what any President would do if rates were 1% or 99%? Aren't the terms meaningless without context? Playing this game cedes Republican ground because it is not about economics, but about cheap 30 second rhetorical bits - everyone hates paying taxes, so they are against taxes. Democrats sometimes counter with "the children", but it is still playing on their level, simplistic sloganeering rather than the complicated issues that actual governance entails.

Posted by: theCoach on June 11, 2003 05:32 AM

True. Maybe "created deficit for no good reason" and "fixed deficit for very good reasons" would be better.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 11, 2003 09:07 AM

Hey Brad,

Could you please explain how Clinton's tax increase boosted the economy? Are you sure you are properly accounting for the impact of DELAY between government actions and economic responses?

Your Pal,

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 11, 2003 11:55 AM

"Before you dismiss him as a crank, realize that he was an advisor to Reagan and is close to Jack Kemp."

You're joking, right? Do you know anything about the history of vulgar supply-side economics and the Reagan administration? Wanniski epitomizes the term "crank".

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 11, 2003 12:13 PM

"The Bush administration is all about the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, so that America will once again have a ruling elite that will stand above everyone else."

One needn't be a Bush-fan to find this statement ludicrous on the face of it: how exactly does cutting taxes on the rich - and thereby allowing them to keep more of what they earn - translate into a "transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy", especially in light of the fact that the rich STILL pay more, both absolutely and percentagewise, of their income as taxes?

This is economic illiteracy of the highest order.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 11, 2003 01:13 PM

Abiola Lapite,
Your use of the word 'earn' is what is out of place here. You use the word as if these people magically create this money in a vacuum, without the help of a society.

If we are talking about transfer from the middle class to the upper class, we need only to look at the percentage of overall wealth the middle class had relative to the rich at point A, and then again at point B, and then compare.

Posted by: theCoach on June 11, 2003 02:15 PM

"If we are talking about transfer from the middle class to the upper class, we need only to look at the percentage of overall wealth the middle class had relative to the rich at point A, and then again at point B, and then compare."

That proves absolutely nothing. It could be that the rich are better investors than the middle class, it could be that they save a lot more, it could be that they have a secret sauce they spray on the money trees in their back gardens - it could be any of a broad range of reasons.

It is NOT obvious that if I am richer than you, and later on it turns out that the gap between us has increased, I have somehow "taken" something from you. It could well be that I have something you never had, e.g. brains, ambition, a stronger work-ethic, or even plain luck. It is incumbent on those who claim that the rich are "stealing" from the middle class to actually PROVE their claims, not just resort to saying "The Wealth Gap Has Increased!"

Either give me an airtight causal chain, or at least a suggestive econometric analysis, or expect me to take all such prognostications as the ravings of ignoramuses.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 11, 2003 02:27 PM

Jude Wanniski makes perfect sense, so long as you make some reasonable assumptions, like:

1) The laws of supply and demand don't apply in financial markets, with the sale of perfectly homogeneous commodities, near-perfect information about the prices at which any financial asset is sold on the market elsewhere, and buyers and sellers that are as close to being price-takers as in any market in existence.
2) The price of gold is fixed by some kind of divine force, not determined by anything like supply or demand. (one suspects that if you put Wanniski with an ounce of gold in his pocket on a planet with no gold whatsoever, but with extensive use of technologies that would be greatly enhanced by gold, he would still exchange it for about $350 worth of stuff)
3) People do not have any expectations about future economic conditions which they factor into their decision making.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Posted by: Julian Elson on June 11, 2003 02:32 PM

Abiola, you are presuming the naturalness and existence of a capitalist economy. It only exists because of society which to a large extent exists (this one anyway) due to taxes.
Take, for instance, a different society, that runs a command economy. They decide paychecks by how blue your eyes are. They also have a flat tax. If ten years from now those with blue eyes have more wealth, would you say they earned it, or that it was a transfer of wealth?
Additionally, would the non-blue eyed citizens be justified in desiring a different type of economy? But they have blue eyes...
The justification, as far a I can tell, for a capitalist economy is that it works rather efficiently, rising all boats, not that it has been bestowed upon us by God.

Posted by: theCoach on June 11, 2003 04:46 PM

Keith-

I should have differentiated between "harmless crank" and "dangerous crank."

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 11, 2003 05:22 PM

"Abiola, you are presuming the naturalness and existence of a capitalist economy. It only exists because of society which to a large extent exists (this one anyway) due to taxes."

What does this have to do with the fact that the claim made, to wit "The Bush administration is all about the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy" remains without a shred of proof?

Frankly, your statement is simply incoherent - "society ... to a large extent exists (this one anyway) due to taxes." What on earth are you trying to claim?

Please stay on topic if you want to be taken seriously - there is NO logical necessity that an increase in income inequality must imply a TRANSFER of wealth from the middle class to the rich. Putting aside that neither you nor the originator of the statement have shown that inequality IS in fact increasing under the Bush administration, the fact remains - CORRELATION is NOT proof of CAUSATION. This is a concept taught in elementary statistics - surely you're familiar with it?

Life is too short to waste it on vague, marxist-inspired verbalizing. If you don't have facts and/or water-tight logic to offer, don't expect any more responses from me.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 11, 2003 05:38 PM

The National Review writers are not actually as stupid as they look about economics, but they do approach it in a different way than we do.

Their number-one assumption is that the modern welfare state, which taxes the well-off to provide a safety net for the not-so-well-off, is fundamentally evil. To their way of thinking, anything which helps in their struggle against the Evil Welfare State is good. Any argument which advances the Cause, no matter how incorrect its premises or faulty its logic, is right. Truth is secondary. To these right-wing ideologues, economics is not a way of finding the truth. They already know the truth. Economics is a weapon in their struggle.

So they've got a Plan. They've come to the conclusion that the majority of the American people are so addicted to their welfare state that an honest argument would be futile. So they're going to be sneaky. They're going to do David Stockman one better and *really* starve the Beast by choking us with debt. When the crisis comes, they hope to ensure that massive rollbacks of government programs to alleviate economic inequality are the only possible way out.

Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, this Plan is almost certainly doomed to fail. Making it work would require the True Believers to have total control over the levers of power for long enough to drive our debt/GDP ratio WAY past Japanese levels. Even with our Boomer-retirement load, that's going to take quite some doing. And while they're driving the economy into the toilet, they've got to keep convincing the voters that all these problems are not their fault even though they're in charge. That's *really* going to take some doing. The only way I can see that happening is if we're hit by a real Great Depression and the Democrats act as stupid and spineless as they are now for four or five presidential election cycles.

In spite of the many ways in which America fails to fully live up to its ideals, it still is an open and free society. It's really really hard to keep a big lie going when anyone with half a brain and an ounce of integrity can check your figures (OK, this excludes most of the mainstream press, but still).

Posted by: Ben Adams on June 11, 2003 10:33 PM

Abiola the heart of the original quote:

"The Bush administration is all about the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, so that America will once again have a ruling elite that will stand above everyone else."

Is not captured by the semantic debate that YOU started over the use of the word "transfer." If you wanted to contribute meaningfully you could have dealt with the idea that the emprically demonstrable growth in income disparity we can expect from current tax policy will or will not have a destructive effect on American Society.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 11, 2003 11:22 PM

"Abiola the heart of the original quote ... Is not captured by the semantic debate that YOU started over the use of the word "transfer."

Words don't mean whatever you want them to mean, and there's nothing "semantic" about saying that the original statement is extremely stupid.

"If you wanted to contribute meaningfully you could have dealt with the idea that the emprically demonstrable growth in income disparity we can expect from current tax policy will or will not have a destructive effect on American Society."

I'll decide how I wish to "contribute meaningfully", thank you very much. If people say stupid things, I'll call them on it, plain and simple. It isn't MY responsibility to parse nonsensical statements as if they were meaningful.

If you want to talk about "emprically[sic] demonstrable growth in income disparity", then do so; don't start nattering about "transferring wealth from the middle class to the rich", without the slightest smattering of evidence and against all reason, and expect anyone to take you seriously. An outrageous claim unsupported by any logic or factual evidence is simply empty sloganeering - if I wanted that sort of guff I'd go to Democratic Underground.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 12, 2003 02:29 AM

"Please stay on topic if you want to be taken seriously - there is NO logical necessity that an increase in income inequality must imply a TRANSFER of wealth from the middle class to the rich. Putting aside that neither you nor the originator of the statement have shown that inequality IS in fact increasing under the Bush administration, the fact remains - CORRELATION is NOT proof of CAUSATION. This is a concept taught in elementary statistics - surely you're familiar with it?"

Well, you are free to believe that cutting the taxes of rich peoples makes their relative status worse.

Posted by: Michael Greinecker on June 12, 2003 03:18 AM

Abiola Lapite,
Stop talkin' crazy. This really is not controversial.
"It is NOT obvious that if I am richer than you, and later on it turns out that the gap between us has increased, I have somehow "taken" something from you. It could well be that I have something you never had, e.g. brains, ambition, a stronger work-ethic, or even plain luck. It is incumbent on those who claim that the rich are "stealing" from the middle class to actually PROVE their claims, not just resort to saying "The Wealth Gap Has Increased!"

First, your use of the quotes around "taken" and "stealing" is disengenuous and your reading of the word "transfer" is not quite correct, but continuing... "It could well be...brains, ambition, a stronger work-ethic, or even plain luck". These are all second order causes. They contribute only because we have an economic system that values those things. As I have tried to point out, this system is not bestowed upon us by God - we have created this system and support this system with taxes, and there are many other possible economic systems.
If, under the economic system that we have, a wealth gap occurs, it is therefore attributable to the economic system that we have.
Bush has now made some changes to our system. Do you really think that those changes are going to decrease the wealth gap?

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 04:33 AM

Abiola is right-on in my humble opinion. I would like to add a moral dimension to this enquiry. To start with, I would like to distinguish personal values as the "principles I live my life by" and political values as the "principles I want you to live your life by."

For example in regards to abortion my personal value is that it's obviously murder while my political value (which takes into account current social conditions) is that I am in favor of Roe v Wade.

Now with regards to taxation to support government activities, my personal value is that I don't want you to take any of my money to support your government financed schemes while my political value is that I will allow it within limits.

Finally, my main question is "Where do you nanny government types get the moral authority to forcefully take my money and use it to pay off your supporters in ways that are morally anethma to me?"

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 12, 2003 07:44 AM

"Well, you are free to believe that cutting the taxes of rich peoples makes their relative status worse."

Are you dumb or just plain crazy? Where did I claim such a thing? Or is it that in your narrow little world, either "cutting the taxes of rich peoples makes their relative status worse" or transfers wealth to the rich? Why don't you take a course in elementary logic sometime?

"Do you really think that those changes are going to decrease the wealth gap?"

Again, let me say this veeery sloooowly - a hypothetical increase in "the wealth gap" does NOT necessarily mean that wealth has been "transferred" (under any acceptable meaning of that term) from the middle class to the rich; in fact, unless the income tax system were to become REGRESSIVE, such a claim is almost certainly FALSE. All a lowering of the top marginal tax rate does is decrease the amount of wealth being transferred (in the sense in which that term is normally understood) from the RICH to the POOR.

Here is some friendly advice for you: in the world of rational intellectual debate, precision in terminology and reasoning count for something. Take courses in elementary logic and statistics if you can, go buy yourself a copy of John Allen Paulos' "Innumeracy", and take advantage of the internet to acquaint yourself with the common logical fallacies and how to avoid them.

(see http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/)

That way you'll avoid humiliating yourself in front of people who know what they're talking about.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 12, 2003 07:50 AM

It seems ever clearer to me that some of you just don't have a firm grasp of deductive reasoning or the scientific method. Seeing as I can't make you see the light, here's a proposal for you - why don't you ask Prof. DeLong what he thinks of the points I've been trying to make, and on whose side there exists a deficit in rationality?

As much as I may differ from the Professor on certain policy matters, I do respect his intellectual skills, and I am confident that he would never fall into the sort of ridiculous logical error certain characters here can't seem to get around to recognizing. If you can't convince someone who is on "your" side that you're right, perhaps that might give you a clue that something really is amiss, no?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 12, 2003 07:58 AM

Regarding:

" 'It could well be...brains, ambition, a stronger work-ethic, or even plain luck'. These are all second order causes. They contribute only because we have an economic system that values those things."

Would theCoach care to tell us what kinds of economic systems don't "value those things".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on June 12, 2003 08:00 AM

Patrick,
Luck, I think will always be valued, as it is amorphous. But up thread, I gave you an example of a command economy that hands out income strictly according to eye color. A ridiculous and inefficient way to organize an economy, but an example none the less.
One gets the feeling that people believe that a market economy is just "natural" with property rights protected. It is not an a priori fact of life.

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 08:17 AM

Abiola,
I think we are commenting past each other. Let me try to point out what I see as your position, and then point out my position.
You( focusing on the individuals): Mr. X earns $1M, Mr. Y earns $1K. So up until tax time, Mr. X has $1M, Mr. Y has $1K. if the tax rates are 10% up to $250,000, and %20 above that, Mr. X pays more money to a common good account that they therefore share equally. There is a de facto transfer (you use "steal" and "take") from the rich to the poor.

Me(focusing more on the entire system): Wait a second. What actually happens when this guy "earns" money. Is it in a vacuum, or is the amount of money that he is able to "earn" dependent on the economic system in which he operates, a system that is paid for out of the common good account. Would Mr. X earn $1M in Afghanistan? Probably not, even though he has the same drive, ambition, soul, etc. His ability to earn money is entirely dependent on the presumption of a market economy - something I am certainly not arguing against, but it is a presumption none the less. From my view if we are studying the effects of a Tax system we must study the economic system as a whole. In the current system it appears that the wealth gap is increasing, and Bush's changes to the system seem unlikely to reverse this trend.

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 08:40 AM

"There is a de facto transfer (you use "steal" and "take") from the rich to the poor."

Two points:
(i) There is no way in which your claim follows even from your own premises: this is elementary arithmetic we're talking about here.

Mr. X pays $25,000+$75,000 to the pot while Mr. Y pays $100. The total pot is $75,100, so shared equally, Mr. X and Mr. Y both get $37,550 - i.e., $37,450 is TAKEN from X. and GIVEN to Y. Most of us should be so lucky to suffer such "theft".

(ii) I used the term "stealing" in scare-quotes because I was referring to the use others like yourself make of the term, NOT because I was accusing anyone of such an action. Yer doesn't read too good, does yer?

If I needed any more proof that you are an economic illiterate, I certainly don't now. The joke's on you - thanks for the laughs!

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 12, 2003 09:06 AM

"There is a de facto transfer (you use "steal" and "take") from the rich to the poor."

Putting aside the blatant falsity of the statement you assign to me, let me play fair and say you actually DID grasp the correct direction in which wealth is transferred. See, self-criticism isn't a crime!

The charge still remains, though, that it is blatant nonsense to say that "in the current system it appears that the wealth gap is increasing, and Bush's changes to the system seem unlikely to reverse this trend" is in any way equivalent to the statement that originally got my dander up, namely that Bush was devoted to an agenda of transferring wealth from the middle class to the rich. That is at best moronic, and at worst a gigantic lie.

To say that "it appears that the wealth gap is increasing" is defensible in as far as it goes (though it remains unproven that it is so), and if that were all that were being said, I'd have nothing to criticize, but the entire notion of dragging in a hypothetical alternative economic system to somehow justify hyperbolic claims is too much to swallow.

We can argue about counterfactuals all day, but why bother? What does it prove? How do you know that in your alternative system, Mr. Y wouldn't have been mandatorily aborted before birth by Mr. X's father, who is running the Communist Re-Education Camp in Greater Slobovia? The point is, nobody knows what might happen in an alternative universe, so let's stick to talking about the actual liberal capitalist one we do live in.

Bottom line - anyone making preposterous claims is asking to get shot down, and it doesn't do your own credibility any good to try to provide cover to such buffoons.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 12, 2003 09:25 AM

Abiola,
Obviously, I am failing to convince you of my point. Essentially, it is that in regards to:

"The point is, nobody knows what might happen in an alternative universe, so let's stick to talking about the actual liberal capitalist one we do live in."

I do not think that our universe is a priori "liberal capitalist", and that doing so is making a presumption that I believe is not supported by empirical evidence. In fact, we do not even have to delve into history, as we can find current economic systems which are not "liberal capitalist", at least in my understanding of the term.

As far as my economic literacy, you are probably correct. I mostly come here to read interesting, and knowledgeable comments in regards to economics- I would argue that DeLong gets the best conservative (and non-conservative) commenters anywhere on the web. But this question that you are talking about is, I think more political, something I know a little more about. So, one more time, I will try to express that a liberal capitalist society is a political construction (one of the best we have ever come up with), but it is not a given, and that we should always keep that in mind.

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 09:57 AM

I will try to express that a liberal capitalist society is a political construction (one of the best we have ever come up with), but it is not a given, and that we should always keep that in mind.


Hey coach,

I think your wrong about that. Liberal Capitalism is simply "evolution by natural selection" applied to the economic domain and is therefor a well tested natural system, in fact the only system that we know that is successful at producing "continuous improvement."

Capitalists evolve, Socialist devolve.

Adrian

Posted by: Adrian Spidle on June 12, 2003 10:20 AM

You try to help some people...

Abiola, here's a precise term for when someone ducks out of a meaningful and challenging debate by grasping at straws and tangling in semantic definitions: cowardice.

You are correct the word ‘transfer’ as typically used by economists does typically mean the deliberate and direct taking from one and giving to another. However, if one looks at any system where the result of some process of that system is that an absolute or relative property of component A is diminished in degree at the same time the same property of component B is absolutely or relatively increased, the word transfer is the appropriate one. In most technical fields that is a given.

The original post discussed the "percentage of wealth." This is a proposition about RELATIVE position. The problem you have, genius is that you don't know the difference between the words 'absolute' and 'relative'. It is totally absurd for YOU to question anybody else's skill as a logician.

Look, if there is one bag of marbles and at the end of some process the percentage of marbles I have relative to you is lower, then that process has transferred a part of my *share* (the relative amount) to you. This is true even if my *stake* (the absolute amount) has grown. The interesting question - the one that you could actually add something to here - is whether or not I am better off anyway. If you are afraid of that question I hope someone from the right with more courage than you will deliver.

Finally,

For the record anyone who has ever been successful in life knows that the most important personal attribute in any economic system is who you know.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 12, 2003 10:42 AM

Abiola, I think you critics are trying to say that as a result of the tax cuts, the wealthiest portion of the population will shoulder relatively less burden of maintaining the system. I would not call it a transfer, but no point in arguing over words. They may be right or not, I don't know; these things are often unpredictable. To me, the more interesting question is: if that "transfer" is bothering them, what are their reasons? How do they know what the right proportion of taxes to be paid by the wealthy is? (I presume one should know THAT to criticize this development.) If the wealthiest 5% of the society financed the whole system, and someone proposed that the middle class pick up perhaps 10% of the tax burden, what would the reaction be? Where and how do you guys draw the line?

maciej

Posted by: maciej on June 12, 2003 11:24 AM

maciej,
IMO it is a practical matter, not a moral one. The goal, IMHO, is too create the best balance for all of society, a bit of a dodge, I know.
Certainly one factor in judging that would be the wealth gap, but of course there are many and complicated factors to consider.

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 12:02 PM

Jason McCullough writes, about some articles in The Nation, "Neither contains any blatantly incorrect economics, near as I can tell. They're political, but they don't claim 1+1=3, and they don't write too much about economics."

It was pointed out, in reply, that William Greider writes many of the "economics" opinion pieces of the Nation. Here's one of Mr. Greider's pieces, on Social Security, basically calling the late Pat Moynihan a liar:

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20010820&s=greider

Greider writes:

"The Moynihan-Parsons lies are more artfully crafted than the broadsides from ham-handed right-wingers, but they encourage the same fallacious inferences, designed to mislead and frighten:... the Social Security trust fund is a mere accounting device--the trust fund, the pair wrote in the Wall Street Journal, 'holds no accumulated reserves of wealth but only promises that future taxpayers will be asked to redeem.... Where will the Treasury get the money?'"

Greider continues: "Moynihan knows better because he co-engineered the bait and switch the last time a bipartisan commission "reformed" Social Security, back in 1983, when Congress raised the payroll tax rate dramatically to build up huge Social Security surpluses--$1 trillion now, more than $3 trillion by the end of the decade--the very surpluses Moynihan now suggests are meaningless. Social Security no longer operates on a pay-as-you-go basis; it's now pay-in-advance."

As the honorable former senator is no longer around to defend himself, I'll reply. (Probably not in the manner of Pat Moynihan.) Mr. Greider is a big fat idiot. (Well, I don't know about the "big fat" part.) Or a liar.

Social Security is most certainly NOT operating as "pay-in-advance." All the "surpluses" from Social Security are used to fund other programs in federal government, exactly as Moynihan and Parsons wrote. (And exactly as Greider himself ADMITS, only one paragraph later! Doesn't Greider, or the editors at The Nation, bother to read any of his stuff?) There is no Social Security "lock box"...only an immoral Ponzi scheme.

Jason, I trust this meets your definition of "claiming 1+1=3"? (It's actually claiming that "1-1=1"...but I assume this is close enough to meet your definition?)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 12, 2003 02:17 PM

Coach although I agree with you in reality. It is possible for a tax cut to yeild a proportinally larger (and absolutely larger share) to a rich few and yet the many still be better off both absolutely and proportionally. But several (perhaps unrealistic) conditions need to be met. I'll attempt to illustrate.


We have a system with six families A,B,C,D,E and F. Families A-E earn the same amount and Family F is very well compensated.

Suppose in year zero a family of four requires an investment of $5 per year to maintain a minimum standard of living and invest in the kids and retirement.

Assume at the start of year one, a tax cut is enacted so that the A-E’s who kept $10 after taxes now get to keep $11 -- and with economic growth in year two they all get to keep $15. They would at that point have $10 dollars to participate in discretionary consumption and wealth building investment.

Now assume that after the same tax policy Mr. F who got to keep $100 after taxes in year zero got to keep $110 (basically everybody got a 10% bump) and after year two keeps $150 (no better rate of growth). This means $145 dollars in year two after taking care of family needs for discretionary consumption, wealth building investment.

Finally assume that nobody has any accumulated wealth at the start of year zero and the growth in wealth is a fixed proportion of discretionary and wealth-building expenditure across our two income groups (a HEROIC concession because the well compensated actually have access to better investment opportunities). Lets say expenditure produces personal wealth at 33% of this and the remaining 67% is given away, wasted or lost outside the system.

At the end of year zero with no change in tax policy Family F has $31.67 in wealth and Families A-E have a combined $8.33 in wealth. F owns about 79% of all wealth.

Here's what has happens at the end of year two, Mr. F now has $115 of accumulated wealth and Families A-E combined now have $35 of accumulated wealth. F’s share has actually decreased to about 77% from 79%.

A few points for discussion on this example:

1) How much larger or smaller is the rate of return commanded by large versus small investors and entrepreneurs. In effect can F buy wealth at a faster rate?
2) What happens if there are inflationary effects on the subsistence expenditure?

Curiously, if the F’s had insisted they could not survive on less than $75 their proportional wealth actually grows from 50% to 56% because the rate of reinvestment in wealth-building proportional to total after tax income grows faster with the new income (the numerators got smaller). Criticisms? Thoughts?

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 12, 2003 02:24 PM

"You'll find in The National Review rather intelligent rightist commentary on things like stem cell research,..."

I read National Review, and I don't see that.

If you want REAL intelligent rightist commentary about stem cell research, and about genetic manipulation of children, read Ron Bailey (libertarian) in Reason magazine.

I think he destroys the "rightists" in National Review. (They're actually leftists, but they call themselves rightists...or, more accurately, "conservatives".)

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-bailey072501.shtml

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-bailey082001.shtml

P.S. D-oh! I take that back...since it appears that these particular editorials by Ron Bailey actually were published in National Review. But since Ron Bailey's "home" magazine is Reason, I score the points for Reason, not National Review. ;-)

http://www.reason.com/rb/rb040203.shtml

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 12, 2003 03:43 PM

"Abiola, I think your critics are trying to say that as a result of the tax cuts, the wealthiest portion of the population will shoulder relatively less burden of maintaining the system. I would not call it a transfer, but no point in arguing over words."

There IS a point in arguing over words...because the whole issue is, "Who has a right to the money earned by the rich?"

If you say, "The rich have the right to the money they've earned," it isn't proper to call NOT collecting taxes from them "transferring money TO them."

If you think that the rich don't have the right to the money they've earned, you call them parasites, sucking off the poor, and you tax away what they've earned.

But you don't think you're doing that, because you don't really think of it as THEIR money. You think of it as Society's money, that the rich are taking Society's money for their greedy selves. And you think of yourself as a champion of everyone, for stopping them from doing that. (By majority vote, of course!)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 12, 2003 04:06 PM

Mark,
There might be a middle position in there somewhere...you know between no taxes at all, and total communism.

Posted by: theCoach on June 12, 2003 06:47 PM

Silly argument really. Capitalism is efficient (good) but over time it consolidates wealth creating social ills and inefficiencies (bad). The answer is a tax system that disperses wealth (read transfers from rich to poor). That moderation is how the 13th amendment and FDR destroyed communism in this country. No tax is fair. It is a question of efficiency and morality.

Posted by: Dan on June 12, 2003 09:20 PM

Mark,

There is A point in arguing about words, but as I said, I don't think that's the most interesting part of the argument. As coach said, probably most believe in the middle-of-the-road view: the money of the affluent isn't all society's, but to some extent they do owe their wealth to the system. But what are the proportions? I see morality and efficiency being tossed around. But if I imagine that all the millionaires' wealth doubles tomorrow, I don't necessarily see how that will be more inefficient or immoral. So what if Bill Gates has $100 bil rather than $50? Similarly, the bigger tax burden on the middle class means thay will have to forego an extra set of CDs every year, or drive their car one year longer before they buy a new one. An extra tax burden on the rich means an additional Lexus less. Is there a dramatic moral difference here?

Posted by: maciej on June 13, 2003 07:25 AM

"There might be a middle position in there somewhere...you know between no taxes at all, and total communism."

Yes, but the answer is much, much closer to "no taxes at all"...at least at the *federal* level. Federal taxes at about 5% of personal income (at least in times of peace) have been shown to be completely adequate.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 13, 2003 08:09 AM

"Silly argument really."

Considering that communism killed over 50 million people in the last century, and impoverished close to 2 billion, it's not very silly. It's a life-and-death matter.

"Capitalism is efficient (good) but over time it consolidates wealth..."

And "consolidated wealth" is bad, because...?'

"...creating social ills and inefficiencies (bad)."

What are these "social ills" and "inefficiencies" created by consolidated wealth?

As Winston Churchill put it so cleverly, "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." Is it better for people to be equally miserable, than for some to be happy, but others not?

Were the people of Mainland China in the 1960s and early 1970s better off back then than today? Back in the 1960s and 1970s in Mainland China, everyone was poor. Today, some are poor, but others are relatively wealthy. Were the 1960s and 1970s better for the people of Mainland China?

How about the people of Mainland China in the 1960s and 1970s compared with the people of Hong Kong? Were the people of Mainland China better off because they were all poor, compared to Hong Kong, where some were poor, but others wealthy?

"The answer is a tax system that disperses wealth (read transfers from rich to poor)."

There are only two problems with that:

1) Our law (the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land) doesn't authorize the *federal* government to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor (for no service rendered). Since our Constitution doesn't authorize such transfers, they are illegal. And we therefore no longer operate under the Rule of Law, but instead operate under the Rule of Men (and Women). That's a big problem, because when rulers no longer have to follow laws, rights of citizens are very likely to be trampled.

2) It is difficult to defend, from a moral standpoint. If a mob of poor people comes to your house, and votes to take away what's in your garage, because they need it more than you do, I assume you would not think they are doing something morally justifiable, if they then took your things? So why is it more morally justifiable, if they get a tax collector to take what's in your garage, instead of doing it themselves?

"That moderation is how the 13th amendment and FDR destroyed communism in this country."

The 13th amendment was prohibition of slavery. Are you maybe thinking of the 16th amendment, allowing taxation of income?

I don't see how federal income taxes "destroyed communism"...especially considering that the upper income tax bracket was, at one time, was over 90%(!)

http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Basics/Tax/History.html

Further, I don't see how FDR "destroyed communism" either, since he was a leading proponent of many economic features that have also been identified with communist countries...e.g., federal government ownership of industry, wage and price controls, and extensive government regulation. (He even ordered American citizens put into concentration camps in WWII...another feature common to communist governments.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 13, 2003 09:15 AM

"As coach said, probably most believe in the middle-of-the-road view: the money of the affluent isn't all society's, but to some extent they do owe their wealth to the system."

They have a responsibility of paying to support the *legitimate* functions of government. But I emphatically deny that taking money from rich people, to give to poor people--or even worse, vice versa--is a legitimate function of the U.S. federal government.

The legitimate functions of the U.S. federal government are quite clearly enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Not only is taking money from one group, and giving it to another (for no service rendered) NOT listed...such transfers directly contradict the words of Article I, Section 8.

I have no problem with rich people paying more money in federal taxes than poor people. What I have a problem with is ANYONE paying money in, to be given out to someone else, for no service rendered. (Or for services that the federal government is prohibited to provide, such as support for education.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 13, 2003 10:16 AM

In Mark's worldview there clearly is nothing between anarchy and communism. When the highest marginal tax rate in this country was 90% I believe Truman and maybe Ike were president. Are you saying we were a communist country under the general who won WWII and the president who so effectively halted Communisms spread in Europe?

Numerous supreme courts apparently disagree with your reading of the constitution. I defer to their wisdom on the issue.

Easing poverty is a moral issue. You could do some research on that subject in the bible.

The mentally ill homeless guy you ignore on the street is a social ill. Monopolies are an inefficiency.

When were federal income taxes at 5%? If ever, it had to be before WWII and apparently the people back then thought that was too low.

Thanks for correcting me on the 16th amendment.

Posted by: Dan on June 13, 2003 10:20 AM

I don't come around much any more, so I had fogotten that liberals (=Communists) were responsible for the deaths of millions of people during the Stalinist period.

Posted by: zizka on June 13, 2003 01:34 PM

Mark, the major problem with concentrating wealth is the corrosive effect it has on democracy and liberty but that's not really all that important.

Abiola, I love your assumption that all wealth is "earned". It allows you to pretend that "its your money".

Posted by: Stan on June 13, 2003 02:26 PM

How many people has capitalism killed? What Wasn't communism just one reaction to the inequality manifest in the early develompent of capitalism? Wasn't fascism just another one? If there was no inequality people wouldn't have become communists of fascist so readily. People would still have found reasons to kill each other but material differences. Wouldn't have been there and a lot fewer peole would have died.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 13, 2003 04:06 PM

How many people has capitalism killed? What Wasn't communism just one reaction to the inequality manifest in the early develompent of capitalism? Wasn't fascism just another one? If there was no inequality people wouldn't have become communists of fascist so readily. People would still have found reasons to kill each other but the material differences wouldn't have been there and a lot fewer peole would have died.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS:

Income is earned, wealth is possessed.

People can argue over what "earned" means but I'd rather not go through that B.S. again.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 13, 2003 04:08 PM

"Abiola, I love your assumption that all wealth is "earned"."

Why the quote marks around "earned"? Does wealth just fall into the owners' laps, like pork pies in the land of Cockaigne?


"It allows you to pretend that "its your money"."

As opposed to being yours? The government's? The lunatic on the street corner's? Whose should it be then? Whoever you and the revolutionary vanguard decide it ought to belong to? I thought we'd seen THAT particular movie often enough already ...

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 13, 2003 06:50 PM

"Are you dumb or just plain crazy?"

Well, that doesn´t cover all possibilities.

"Where did I claim such a thing?"

You claimed that it is wrong to assume that lower taxes on the rich CAUSES an increase in their relative status by claiming that people who think along that lines confuse correlation and causation. You haven´t said what in your opinion will happen cp to the relative status of the rich if they face lower taxs. Humes riddle isn´t really an argument against modern physics.

"Or is it that in your narrow little world, either "cutting the taxes of rich peoples makes their relative status worse" or transfers wealth to the rich?"

Where should that quote come from? I agree that there is the logical possibility that it has absolutely no effect at all. There is also no logical reason to assume the sun will rise tomorrow. So what?

"Why don't you take a course in elementary logic sometime?"

I had courses in mathematical logic, which is somehow besides the point though. Do you think mindless insult make you look smarter? Well, it doesn´t work.

Posted by: Michael Greinecker on June 13, 2003 10:55 PM

"I had courses in mathematical logic, which is somehow besides the point though. Do you think mindless insult make you look smarter? Well, it doesn´t work."

Well, it's no worse than vacuous responses like yours, at any rate.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 14, 2003 03:41 AM

Who am I to judge your values...

Posted by: Michael Greinecker on June 14, 2003 12:44 PM

Abiola, you are a piece of work. You are questioning people's logic and yet you are assuming all wealth is earned? I note that you don't try to defend this pathetic assumption because there really is no way to do so rationally. Instead you try to pretend that somehow it is a settled question and that I am a moron for questioning it. Well it isn't a settled question because it is flat out nonsense.

You know very well that allowing immigration in technical fields taxes tech workers shifting their wealth to tech business owners. You know very well that placing a highway in someone's backyard taxes that person and shifts the money to others. Of course the vast majority of these types of structural taxes fall on the less wealthy. Whereas the monetary transfers accrue disproportionately on those with means to game the system toward themselves (i.e., the wealthy). (Imagine that, wealth does "just fall into the owners' laps, like pork pies in the land of Cockaigne".)

You want to pretend all wealth is earned so that you can brush these types of structural taxation aside. There was nothing wrong with coach's example of an alternative economy. Your fantasy economy doesn't exist either. Just because we DECIDE to structure our economy so that you capture wealth doesn't make it all earned by any stretch. "Its your money" is part of the original entitlement program.

Posted by: Stan on June 16, 2003 06:41 AM

Mark, I don't believe it is rational to think Federal expenditures can fall far enough to live on 5%. Our national defense was cronically underfunded when we were living in those good ole days of 5%.

In a modern world where time distances are shinking rapidly, there is no way our defense spending alone can fall far enough to allow that low of taxation. A world where we can marshall militia troups, train them, arm them and protect ourselves hasn't existed for almost 200 years. How many times did our Capital have to burn before we learned that lesson? In a world of nuclear missiles, it would be suicide to disarm at the rate 5% taxation would require.

And then there are the other Federal expenditures like the FAA, SEC, and NOAA. There cannot be any economic rationales for Federally funding services like those if we are aiming for 5%. Because of time distance shinkage we can assume that there are now many more crimes that should be investigated and prosecuted Federally than had been the case in the past. There are likely many instances similar.

I'm all for cutting spending where possible, but I'm fairly certain we aren't ever going that low again. Your choice of time frames to compare spending horizons neglects many changes in the world.

Posted by: Stan on June 16, 2003 08:19 AM

'Jason, I trust this meets your definition of "claiming 1+1=3"?'

Maybe. As bad as Greider is at anything involving trade, note that in this article he's stumbled on a case where the given explanation is correct, but the underlying rationales aren't:

"If the money isn't there, as Moynihan-Parsons insinuate, what happened to it? The federal government spent it. What did it buy? Mainly, Reagan's huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, also his military buildup. That money was borrowed, and when more workers retire, the government has to pay it back."

Moynihan, RIP, somehow never quite noticed that the governmental reaction to the SS surplus was to cut income taxes by an equivalent amount, not to improve the fiscal position of the government.

Anyway, the Nation doesn't run one or two articles every day on this stuff. Crank economics aren't as central to the rag.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 16, 2003 01:43 PM

I wrote, "Jason, I trust this meets your definition of 'claiming 1+1=3'?"

Jason replies, "Maybe."

Well, I guess that's as close as I'll ever get to having you concede an obvious, but unpleasant--to you, at least--fact. ;-)

Jason continues, "As bad as Greider is at anything involving trade, note that in this article he's stumbled on a case where the given explanation is correct, but the underlying rationales aren't:..."

Greider's quote: "If the money isn't there, as Moynihan-Parsons insinuate, what happened to it? The federal government spent it. What did it buy? Mainly, Reagan's huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, also his military buildup."

Far from excusing Greider, I think this section actually reflects very poorly on him. He just got done writing that Moynihan was *lying,* and then Greider *admits* what Moynihan was saying was true.

Jason concludes, "Moynihan, RIP, somehow never quite noticed that the governmental reaction to the SS surplus was to cut income taxes by an equivalent amount, not to improve the fiscal position of the government."

Two comments:

1) I think it's virtually impossible that Moynihan "failed to notice" was happened to the additional Social Security taxes.

2) The purpose of the raise in Social Security taxes wasn't to "improve the fiscal situation of the *government*" so much as it was to "improve the fiscal situation of *Social Security.*"

*That* was and is the problem. The federal government has absolutely no credibility for being able to set up and maintain a Social Security "Trust Fund." It didn't under Lyndon Johnson. It didn't under Nixon. It didn't under Ford. It didn't under Carter. It didn't under Reagan. It didn't under G.H.W. Bush. It didn't under Clinton. It's not going to under G.W. Bush.

The first step towards an HONEST attempt to address Social Security is to admit that there is NO "Trust Fund."

Mr. Moynihan at least had the honesty to admit that fact, and move to change Social Security towards a private system.

I think it's pathetic that a "liberal" like William Greider (dishonestly!) attacks the *honesty* of Patrick Moynihan, simply because Mr. Moynihan was willing to publicly state an unpleasant fact. (It reminds me of "liberal" attacks on Mr. Moynihan, for Mr. Moynihan's honesty in pointing out the significant problem of black children born out of wedlock.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 16, 2003 03:12 PM

"how exactly does cutting taxes on the rich - and thereby allowing them to keep more of what they earn - translate into a "transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy", especially in light of the fact that the rich STILL pay more, both absolutely and percentagewise, of their income as taxes?"


Cutting taxes on the rich allows them keep more income in a given taxation year. Assuming that the government's spending needs remain a constant or growing percentage of GDP each taxation year, other income groups will pay more to make up the shortfall in revenue.

Two ways to get around this: deficit financing or rapid economic growth.
Deficit financing is really just a delayed tax, so the same fairness issues come up at a later date. Let the kids of the middle class pay.
Rapid economic growth through tax cuts? Maybe if you were cutting from 90% to 50% top marginal rates for the wealthy, I could see the argument, a more productive use of resources by the economic decision makers. But once you get below 40% top rate, there is so much less of a pay off. Its seems that even tax cuts must obey the law of diminishing returns.

So, over time the rich pay less income taxes per year relative to what they paid before and other income groups pay more income taxes per year then they did before. In this way over time there is a wealth transfer.

As for the rich paying more absolutely and percentage wise, well no kidding. If you have a large income you will always pay more absolutely, because you have a large income.

As for paying more percentage wise, well yes there is still progressive income taxation in the USA. Oh are you trying to make a moral point, like boo hoo isn't this unfair to the rich. The Government just takes and takes and takes. We are soo oppressed. How dare you accuse us of not contibuting our fair share!

All I know is the United States Government does not run on morality or love or economic theories. It runs on cold hard cash. It used to be the elite of America understood their responsibilities and contributed properly. These days they piss and moan and shove their money in offshore accounts. The American rich are practically unpatriotic. Let the little people pay for the government not us.

President Bush will discredit conservative ideas in the years to come much in the way liberal ideas had to be re-examined in the 1970s, maybe then this country can have a proper discussion about economic policy.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on June 16, 2003 03:14 PM

"In Mark's worldview there clearly is nothing between anarchy and communism."

In Dan's world, there is apparently no need to either read carefully, and/or write honestly. It's complete nonsense that anything I've ever written could be "clearly"--or even potentially--taken to imply that there is nothing between anarchy and communism. A simple look at the governments of the approximately 170 countries in the world indicates that over 165 of them operate somewhere between anarchy and communism.

"When the highest marginal tax rate in this country was 90% I believe Truman and maybe Ike were president. Are you saying we were a communist country under the general who won WWII and the president who so effectively halted Communisms spread in Europe?"

Truman "so effectively halted communism's spread in Europe?" This would be because the communists "only" got about half of Europe, instead of all of it?

"Numerous supreme courts apparently disagree with your reading of the constitution. I defer to their wisdom on the issue."

Why not try actually thinking for yourself? Read the Consitution. The part that defines the powers that Congress has is Article I, Section 8. You won't find any mention there about paying for peoples' retirements. Then read the 10th amendment. It says that all the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the "states," or "The People." In other words, states can set up retirement plans. And The People can have their own retirement plans. But the federal government is NOT authorized to set up retirement plans.

It's as simple as that.

"Easing poverty is a moral issue. You could do some research on that subject in the bible."

Yes, private individuals easing poverty, through contibutions to charity, is a moral thing. And if they give away all their money, and follow Jesus Christ, Christ promised that they will get to heaven.

But the federal government ILLEGALLY taking money from some people, and giving to other people, is most certainly NOT moral. And federal government "charity" is unquestionably illegal, according to James Madison (who ought to know, since he was a primary author, and is widely acknowledged as the "Father of the Constitution.")

"4] James Madison, author of the U.S. Constitution, condemned the welfare state on constitutional grounds by saying, 'I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.'"

http://www.pensionreform.org/studies/portugal.html

"When were federal income taxes at 5%?"

When the first federal income tax was instituted, as a result of the 16th Amendment, the bottom rate was 1%, and the top rate was 6%:

http://www.newswithviews.com/Dresser/dresser4.htm

http://www.cato.org/research/articles/rugy-030306.html



Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 16, 2003 03:51 PM

On the subject of Voodoo Economics...

I am not a conservative. But I'd say its pretty well established that over time tax cuts do lead to accelerated economic growth if short term disruptions can be overcome.

The big question it seems is not whether or not this is true but weather there are "special circumstances" when it is NOT true (e.g given deflation, war, high debt levels, trade deficits, etc.)

Also there is a totally seperate question regarding equity that boils down whether people with social advantages should be asked to support society. This is quite interesting because often in history when they haven't they have lost their heads.

But a defensible conservative position would posit that:

1) There is no such thing as society. There is law and order and it is in everyones self interest to respect this. Within law and order individuals are responsible for their own fates.

2) Our only collective responsibility is the maintance of Law and Order.

Moderate conservatives might argue that a certain amount of bribery is a necessary evil to maintain law and order.

More hardline conservatives might say that a certain amount of coersion is preferable to any amount of bribery on moral grounds.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 16, 2003 04:12 PM

Mark, what does the Constitution say about a standing army? What did the writers say about the threat it posed to liberty? Contrary to what they thought, didn't the shrinkage of time distances show that having a standing army was less a threat to liberty than not having one? Likewise, the threat of wealth concentration to liberty combined with the knowledge that wealth is both earned and unearned to undermine the philosophical underpinnings of writers like Madison on economic matters.

The Constitution should be amended but enough of the natural rights to property nonsense. Having enforcible property rights makes economic sense, but there is nothing natural about property rights. A quick poll of the 170+ countries on the globe and their histories shows the concept to be foreign to a good portion of humanity. Ask a native Brazilian Amazonian about the concept and he'll think you are insane. Madison was hardly an uninterested party as to the presevation of the economic status quo anyhow.

Posted by: Stan on June 17, 2003 07:19 AM

Bytheway Mark, your argument about the immorality of wealth transfers is worse than sanctimoneous BS. There are wealth transfers involved in virtually every government action. In fact, it is nearly impossible for government to not transfer wealth. Not acknowledging those transfers doesn't make them go away.

Indeed, since the tranfers tend to push wealth to the wealthy, not accounting for them is blatantly immoral. Returning money to the people who earned it is the moral thing to do. Right? That is exactly what you say you are trying to do. Right? Well pretending that the only tranfers are those specifically labled taxes is immoral to the nth degree. This whole far right argument is sickening.

Posted by: Stan on June 17, 2003 08:01 AM

"Mark, what does the Constitution say about a standing army?"

Article I, Section 8: "To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;"

"What did the writers say about the threat it posed to liberty?"

Alexander Hamilton: "...that standing army can never be formidable (threatening) to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in the use of arms." (Federalist Paper #29)

Joseph Story (not a writer of the Constitution, but an important early Supreme Court judge...the youngest ever to sit on the Supreme Court): "The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people." (Story, Joseph. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. 3 vols. Boston, 1833.)

"Contrary to what they thought, didn't the shrinkage of time distances show that having a standing army was less a threat to liberty than not having one?"

No, I don't think history has shown that to be true.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/peirce/peirce43.html

But even if it *was* true, the Constitution could be amended to do whatever 2/3rds of Congress and 3/4ths of the states think is necessary.

"Likewise, the threat of wealth concentration to liberty combined with the knowledge that wealth is both earned and unearned to undermine the philosophical underpinnings of writers like Madison on economic matters."

Well, if you can get 2/3rds of the members of Congress, and 3/4ths of the state legislatures to agree with you, you can amend the Constitution, to legally allow transfers of wealth (for no services rendered).

"The Constitution should be amended but enough of the natural rights to property nonsense."

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams, etc. didn't think the "right to pursue property" was "nonsense." I value their opinions more than yours. (No offense.)

"A quick poll of the 170+ countries on the globe and their histories shows the concept to be foreign to a good portion of humanity."

And a good portion of the globe is made up of various h@ll-holes. Those h@ll-holes line up in almost direct correlation with their lack of respect for property rights (e.g. North Korea and Zimbabwe).

"Ask a native Brazilian Amazonian about the concept and he'll think you are insane."

If you wish to live like a native Brazilian Amazonian, you're free to do so. Personally, I thank whatever-Gods-may-be that I was born in the U.S., where property rights get greater respect. (Surprise, surprise...we're wealthier than they are. Wonder why?)

"Madison was hardly an uninterested party as to the presevation of the economic status quo anyhow."

Madison was easily one of the top handful of public servants in all U.S. history. (In fact, I'd probably put him second only to George Washington. If not in a tie for first.) Needless to say, I'd happily give away 1000 Ted Kennedys for a single James Madison.


Posted by: Mark Bahner on June 17, 2003 10:06 AM

"(Surprise, surprise...we're wealthier than they are. Wonder why?)"


The systematic murder and expulsion of natives?

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on June 17, 2003 10:27 AM

Mark, I'm glad to hear that you value the opinions of "Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams, etc." I know very well that they were trying to sell the idea that greed bestowed a fundamental natural right to property. Unfortunately for your position and theirs, the idea can be tested. If the tests show the position is false, then it isn't a question of opinion it is a question of fact.

Property as a natural right has been proven wrong. How? "A quick poll of the 170+ countries on the globe and their histories shows the concept to be foreign to a good portion of humanity." Now for the if, then test. If the concept is foreign to much of humanity, then it cannot be a natural right. It is. It isn't.

The fact that "a good portion of the globe is made up of various h@ll-holes" in proportion to property rights shows only that respecting property rights makes economic sense. It does nothing to change THE FACT that "A quick poll of the 170+ countries on the globe and their histories shows the concept to be foreign to a good portion of humanity."

Indeed, most property has to be defined by governments to exist at all. (That is a good part of why that poor Amazonian will think you are crazy.) Goody another if, then test. If most property has to be defined by government, then property cannot be a natural, self-existent right. It does. It isn't.

In order for you to cling to the concept you would have to prove these if, then tests invalid. Unfortunately for your position both of these if, then tests are valid AND they totally undermine the idea of property as a natural right.

Now repeat after me: Just because somebody says the Universe revolves around the Earth doesn't make it so. Even if those people are otherwise respected individuals, they can be shown to be wrong. When they are shown to be wrong, holding onto what they said isn't a matter of opinion. You may find that it helps to keep in mind that as humans even founding fathers fail sometimes. The point on a standing army was meant to help you deal with this part (i.e., it has happened before).

Posted by: Stan on June 17, 2003 11:10 AM

Article 1 Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense AND GENERAL WELFARE of the United States;
- Which makes taxing people and distributing it to others legal.

"Truman "so effectively halted communism's spread in Europe?" This would be because the communists "only" got about half of Europe, instead of all of it?"

Yes, exactly. A simple understanding of WWII makes this clear.

And nothing in our history makes it clear that a 5% tax rate is sufficient. Certainly not WWI, certainly not the Great Depression, and certainly not Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: Dan on June 17, 2003 03:22 PM

Only people who know very little about the law contend that the Federal government is not entitled to tax or take private property to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

**Article I, Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and GENERAL WELFARE of the United States; BUT all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States**

And this 'BUT' is removed by by the 16th amendment:

**The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.**

This is like 8th grade social studies. Come on people.

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 17, 2003 06:13 PM

Hasn't this been settled by like gazillion federal rulings...

ARTICLE I, Section 8: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and ***GENERAL WELFARE*** of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

...

To make ALL laws which shall be necessary and PROPER for carrying into execution the foregoing powers [itemized], and ALL OTHER POWERS [including provision for the ***GENERAL WELFARE*** emphasised above] vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.


And the 16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

This is like 8th Grade social studies, come on people!

Posted by: Michael Carroll on June 17, 2003 06:28 PM

"Moynihan, RIP, somehow never quite noticed that the governmental reaction to the SS surplus was to cut income taxes by an equivalent amount, not to improve the fiscal position of the government"

Are you kidding? In a discussion in the WaPo when the late Senator Heinz called the govt's consumption of the SS surplus "theft" Moynihan corrected him saying, "No, it's not theft, it's embezzlement".

But anyhow, to blame the spending of the SS surplus on the Reagan deficits or anyone else is very naive. This is just how government works, and it's been going on with Social Security since 1939.

FDR's original Social Security Act of 1935 created a program that was permanently soundly funded with a 6% payroll tax and "funded" benefits -- one's benefit was based on how much in taxes one had paid and full benefits weren't to be paid out for decades. (The "intergenerational transfer" and "contract between generations" that we hear so much about today didn't exist.) The payroll taxes were paid into a reserve account -- our trust fund -- to be used to pay down the national debt or finance the gov't. And the 6% meant a lot of money coming in. FDR was very proud that SS was soundly funded and "out of the Treasury forever".

That plan lasted all the way until 1939, when it was savaged in Congress by both left and right. The lefties said it was awful that regressive payroll taxes were being used pay down bonds and fund the gov't. Progressuive income taxes were supposed to be used for that. They wanted to use the payroll tax money to pay benefits *now*. The righties said you could never trust the gov't to hold and save all that payroll tax money coming in, the gov't would surely squander it on pork and pet programs and growing itself. So they wanted the tax cut. Sound familiar?

So the left and right cut a deal -- they increased and accelerated benefits while converting SS from funded to paygo, and cut the payroll tax in half from 6% to 3%. With left and right united against him FDR had no choice but to lead by following, "Yeah, I'm for that, sure I am!" -- well, he had WWII to fight. A huge SS reserve account that was supposed to exist by 1980 was wiped out. SS was broke then instead, and we were put on the road to where we are today.

So anyone who wants to blame Reagan or Bush Republican for "spending the SS surplus" is noticing things about 50 or 60 years too late. And they were all Democrats making the decisions back in FDR's day.

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 18, 2003 12:00 PM

Re Moynihan I forgot to mention that he proposed reducing the Social Security payroll tax rate by two points to make it truly paygo and no more, exactly because he thought it was wrong for the gov't to be spending taxes labeled "FICA" on non-SS general expenditures.

Posted by: Jim Glass on June 18, 2003 12:53 PM

Jim Glass,
Thanks for the history of SS. Interesting, but you have to admit that demographics over the years have made this a very different problem, no?

Posted by: theCoach on June 18, 2003 01:28 PM

Antoni, the irony of a Spaniard writing those words...

Posted by: Stan on June 18, 2003 01:53 PM

Stan, until 11 September of 1714, fall of Barcelona to the French-Castilian forces consequent to the British volteface (euphemism), my ancestor had little if any possibility to go to the Americas. The same than the Italians, Dutch, or any of the people of the various States that shared the same head of State with Castille at those times, with the difference that we are still not independent.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on June 18, 2003 02:33 PM

Antoni, Mark's ancestors likely weren't here killing off the natives either. From what I gather through his earlier statements, they were probably involved in infighting among the multitude of German principalities of the period. Disease and boatloads of other European invaders had pacified the earlier American occupants long before he or his stepped onto these shores. He sure has grabbed onto the entitlement rationalizations with gusto though.

I'm assuming you've given thought to what happened to the people living in your region before your forefathers arrived? In a similar vein, that poor Amazonian isn't alive today because his forefathers were kind to strangers. We all live in glass houses...

Posted by: Stan on June 19, 2003 08:18 AM
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