January 31, 2004

Eugene Volokh's Jaw Drops

UPDATE: Paul "Slaves Were Happy! And Well Cared-For! Really Happy! Much Happier Than People Like Me, Who Have to Fill Out Schedule C!" Craig Roberts finds somebody who agrees with him: Donald Luskin.* Why am I not surprised?


Eugene Volokh's jaw drops as he contemplates the views of Paul Craig Roberts:

The Volokh Conspiracy: Columnists Paul Craig Roberts begins a recent column with a criticism of the income tax -- something that certainly could be criticized -- but then says (emphasis added):

Compare an American taxpayer's situation today with that of a 19th century American slave. Not all slaves worked on cotton plantations. Some with marketable skills were leased to businesses or released to labor markets, where they worked for money wages. Just like the wages of today's taxpayer, a portion of the slave's money wages was withheld. In those days the private owner, not the government, received the withheld portion of the slave's wages.

Slaves in that situation were as free as today's American taxpayer to choose their housing from the available stock, purchase their food and clothing, and entertain themselves.

In fact, they were freer than today's American taxpayer. By hard work and thrift, they could save enough to purchase their freedom.

No American today can purchase his freedom from the IRS.

Slaves could also run away. Today, Americans who run away are pursued to the far ends of the earth. Indeed, the IRS can assert its ownership rights for years after an American gives up his citizenship and becomes a citizen of a different country. The IRS need only claim that the former American gave up his citizenship for tax reasons.
     Conspicuously omitted from the comparison: Pre-Civil-War slaves could be sold by their masters. The masters could sell one's spouse, or one's children, and you might never see them again. The masters could sell one's daughters into prostitution. In some states, it was illegal for slaves to be educated. Slaves naturally didn't have constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech. Masters could, to the best of my knowledge, engage in a broad range of corporal punishment (all of course without any requirement of due process). The masters surely could try to stop slaves from running away, and to my knowledge many slaves were murdered while trying away. Need I go on?

     Seriously, would any of you trade your modern status, even with high income taxes, for being a slave in the 1850 South, even a favored one such as the sort Roberts describes? Hey, I'm a big believer in economic liberty, which too many people wrongly devalue. But it's ridiculous moral blindness to overvalue it, and to undervalue the panoply of other liberties that we as free men have and that Southern slaves did not. "In fact, [certain pre-1860 American slaves] were freer than today's American taxpayer" is just an appalling statement to make.

     Oh, and here's the crowning touch, from later in the column:
The "Civil Rights revolution" destroyed equality before the law. Today rights are race-and gender-based. We have resurrected the status-based rights of feudalism. The new privileges belong to "preferred minorities" rather than noble families.
Readers of the blog know that I'm happy to complain about ways in which civil rights laws (and other laws) restrict liberty, or erode equality. But saying that "The 'Civil Rights revolution' destroyed equality" and that "Today rights are race- and gender-based" suggests that somehow before the 1960s we had more equality and didn't have race- and gender-based rights.

     Jim Crow; segregated schools; legal prohibitions on women working in various jobs; government tolerance of race-based lynchings; routine discrimination against nonwhites and women in a vast range of government jobs; systematic police abuse of blacks -- all that somehow didn't involve and "race- and gender-based" rights, and hadn't yet destroyed equality. But set up race- and sex-based affirmative action (which, I stress again, I oppose) and other aspects of modern civil rights laws; now, all of a sudden (even though women and racial minorities have more nearly equal opportunities with men and whites than they've ever had in American history) that's "destroy[ing]" some preexisting equality. What sort of moral and practical blindness is this?

Consider: This is the kind of guy whom Ronald Reagan chose to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury. This is one of the core original supply-side group. We economists have been dealing with Craig for decades now.


*Luskin writes: "...frankly, I take Roberts' point. Much the same point was made by the late Robert Nozick in "The Tale of the Slave" in his classic of libertarian political philosophy, Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Posted by DeLong at January 31, 2004 08:56 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Comments

And let's not forget Grover Norquist who compared the estate tax with the Holocaust.

Posted by: GT on January 28, 2004 06:01 PM

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Consider: This is the kind of guy whom Ronald Reagan chose to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury.

I did a couple of phone interviews with Roberts back when I was a reporter. A truly strange man -- when he got going on one of his supply side obsessions (capital gains, as I recall) I thought the phone would melt. It was like listening to Jack Kemp talk about the gold standard -- I could almost hear the steam coming out of his ears.

I didn't know Roberts when he was at Treasury, but I always wondered how he got there and who his political patron was. He really seemed off the deep end -- even for a Reagan Administration economist.


Posted by: Billmon on January 28, 2004 06:23 PM

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"Government tolerance of race-based lynchings"? Really? People have been murdered, strung up by the neck until dead?

I know Trent Lott feels put upon, but really.

Posted by: mike on January 28, 2004 06:27 PM

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"No person today can purchase his freedom from
the IRS"
Have these people never been outside the
county to see how others live where there
are no taxes? Haiti has low taxes, I think.

Posted by: Bartolo on January 28, 2004 06:35 PM

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Amazes me, but these guy's gladly pay for membership in thier Country Club, Gentlemen's Club, fitness club but they figure all the shit that society provides should come free because they're friggin citizens. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:47 PM

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Amazes me, but these guy's gladly pay for membership in thier Country Club, Gentlemen's Club, fitness club but they figure all the shit that society provides should come free because they're friggin citizens. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:47 PM

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Amazes me, but these guy's gladly pay for membership in thier Country Club, Gentlemen's Club, fitness club but they figure all the shit that society provides should come free because they're friggin citizens. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:47 PM

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Amazes me, but these guy's gladly pay for membership in thier Country Club, Gentlemen's Club, fitness club but they figure all the shit that society provides should come free because they're friggin citizens. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:47 PM

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Amazes me, but these guy's gladly pay for membership in thier Country Club, Gentlemen's Club, fitness club but they figure all the shit that society provides should come free because they're friggin citizens. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:47 PM

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I am troubled by Robert's equation of the two taxes--one taken by the slaveholder and the other by the government.

While both of them may lighten the individual's wallet, aren't they taken, in principle, for different purposes and by different entities?

One to maintain and enrich the individual oppressor; the other to maintain a fundamental and necessary social institution (i.e. fund public goods, provide social insurance, protect and enforce property rights, etc)?

From my perspective there is no reason to take anybody seriously who equates these two "taxes". Seriously, what a joke.

Posted by: aw on January 28, 2004 06:48 PM

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But if there are no taxes, how will we afford a powerful military to prove how virile, er, gracious we are? Without taxes, we couldn't invade anyone! How could we protect our oil, er, allies?

Posted by: fasteddie on January 28, 2004 06:48 PM

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oh man, i am so sorry for the multiple posts.

sorry again.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 06:49 PM

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mike, i can't tell for sure what you mean, but what prof volokh meant, quite simply, is that there were thousands of lynchings in the south, generally done in front of dozens, if not hundreds, of witnesses, and hardly ever was there a conviction.

Hence, "government tolerance of race-based lynchings."

Now, mike, did you just not know that, or are you in some way agreeing with professor volokh?

I hope it's the latter, but the prof is one of the last of the honorable conservatives....

Posted by: howard on January 28, 2004 06:56 PM

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er, "because the prof is one of the last of the honorable conservatives," not "but."

Posted by: howard on January 28, 2004 06:56 PM

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But without taxes, how could we subsidize all of our professional baseball, football, and hockey teams?

And how could we afford all the wonderful military gadgetry to kick lesser countries asses so that everyone knows that USA is number one!

USA! USA! USA!

Posted by: glenstonecottage on January 28, 2004 07:02 PM

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I noticed that Roberts invoked the Founding Fathers in his rant. It seems as though conservatives view the FF's as their ideological property that can be used to lend respectability to whatever they say. OK, this is my hobby horse, but let's see what Jefferson might say...

Well, actually Jefferson might agree with some of what Roberts says. At one point in life he did think it violated natural rights for the government to confiscate what a man had earned himself, and that an income tax did just that. So I can see one founding father agreeing with some of that rant. But Jefferson was concerned about unequal distribution of income and wealth, and the rich dominating the others because of excessive wealth. And... since Jefferson thought that the dead had no rights whatever, not even through wills written while they were alive, his solution was a confiscatory inheritance tax, and strictly limited transfers of wealth to relatives. The proceeds would be use for public programs of various kinds. So, could would that trade make Roberts happy?

One link led to Roberts' praise for John Adams. John Adams did believe that property rights were inviolable, and if violated, would lead to tyranny and immorality. He also thought that the concentration of wealth would lead in the same direction, inevitably. But concentration of wealth was inevitable in any society, and any attempted remedy would be worse than the disease. And therefore the United States would eventually follow the path of all societies, the only question was how to slow the process to the final rot and fall. I would like to see conservatives follow the thinking that far.

Both Adams and Jefferson felt that any business activity financed by debt was somehow questionable. So banks and insurance companies, real estate and financial speculators, should be subject to all sorts of restrictions, heavily regulated, and in some cases nationalized. Complete prohibition of certain kinds of these business activities, if they caused undue trouble, violated no ones rights at all. I guess Roberts agrees with that too.

It angers me when conservative say wild things, and add on that the founders would agree, and imply that the founders would also agree with their social vision.

But I am sorry, Brooks has already informed us that the founders had no social vision. They just bumbled along and had contempt for pointy headed intellectuals. I forgot.

Posted by: jml on January 28, 2004 07:03 PM

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I'm a slave of the United States of America. Mr. Roberts received his wages, his health insurance and probably some sort of pension from the sweat of my brow while he was my massa there at Treasury.

I want my reparations and it had better be goddammned soon.

Posted by: John Thullen on January 28, 2004 07:06 PM

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Mike,

Adding to Howard's comment: Not only were lynchings not prosecuted by the states, but attempts at passing federal anti-lynching laws were generally successfully blocked by the segregationists.

So "government tolerance of race-based lynchings" is wholly accurate.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on January 28, 2004 07:12 PM

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Maxspeak's motto:

"Private property ... is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt." -- Benjamin Franklin

Just another bit of proof that Paul Craig Roberts doesn't know what he's talking about.

Posted by: gmoke on January 28, 2004 07:25 PM

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As GT points out, this silly-ass nonsense about taxes being equivalent to the worst of moral crimes ain't new to Roberts. The tax-as-slavery notion isn't even original, so no points to Roberts for that. Doesn't he also get regular space in a national business type magazine that parades him (and so itself) as a source of legitimate views on the economy?

For other versions of "tax = slavery" --

http://www.lewrockwell.com/yates/yates17.html

http://www.ncpa.org/oped/bartlett/aug1899.html

Posted by: K Harris on January 28, 2004 07:27 PM

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this is the guy Chuck Schumer wrote an op-ed with? wow

Posted by: David on January 28, 2004 07:29 PM

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Roberts' history book seems to be missing a few chapters.

And the GOP wonders why so few blacks belong to their party?

Posted by: bakho on January 28, 2004 07:32 PM

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Umm, I'd say that was circa 1750, before chattel slavery was legalized. Lets not forget that chattel slavery paid for European American economic freedom in the 19th century. Without that, the southern and much of the northern economies would have collapsed and we'd all be speaking French.

Posted by: chris on January 28, 2004 07:39 PM

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I'm surprised Volokh missed the most important and crucial difference: slaves don't get to vote for their masters.

Posted by: Chris Baker on January 28, 2004 07:41 PM

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oh man, i am so sorry for the multiple posts.

sorry again.

Posted by: idiotatthewheel on January 28, 2004 08:07 PM

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Volokh doesn't come off so good here. Is this the most outrage he can muster?

What a pack of loons. So depressing.

Posted by: david on January 28, 2004 08:09 PM

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Chris, you're trolling right? I'll bite:


Lets not forget that chattel slavery paid for European American economic freedom in the 19th century. Without that, the southern and much of the northern economies would have collapsed and we'd all be speaking French

Like all those other non-slaveholding nations with collapsed economies at that time? Like the Europeans?

Gimme a break. The US consciously crafted our economy on slave labor, it wasn't thrust upon us. And I would rather be a poor but free country, than a rich slaveholding one.

Posted by: poopy chutes on January 28, 2004 08:09 PM

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On Maxspeak's motto:
Thanks for the Franklin quote. He also suggested the following two amendments at the Pennsylvania constitutional convention towards the end of his life (paraphrased):
1. Ownership of private property was a natural right.
2. There was no right to private property above and beyond what a person reasonably put to good use.

See Morgan's recent biography on Franklin's views on property rights, and rights in general, with these proposals discussed in the last chapter. And Franklin was not a bleeding heart liberal. He argued against any kind of welfare, even for the sick and aged. It would set a bad example for the healthy and youthful, who needed to be taught to save their money for a rainy day. Publicly financed work programs for the poor were OK, though, as long as they really earned the money by doing useful work.

Sorry to beat this Founders thing into the ground, but I can't believe how these people say any old extremist, radical reactionary thing they want and slap "As the Founders wisely understood..." on the front of it, to give it some legitimacy.

chris: I don't understand this, you will have to help me with my history

"Lets not forget that chattel slavery paid for European American economic freedom in the 19th century. Without that... we'd all be speaking French."

The Louisiana Purchase was only about ten years after the invention of the cotton gin. I don't think slavery could be argued to have been a super-efficient profit maker until at least a decade later. The evidence is definite that it ever was more producitive than free labor. Slavery was still an economically doubtful scheme that allowed the planters to experiment with the current export cash crop fad (like indigo had been decades before). Isn't your timing a little off?


Posted by: jml on January 28, 2004 08:13 PM

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My lousy typing again:
The evidence is NOT definitive that it (slavery) ever was more productive than free labor

Posted by: jml on January 28, 2004 08:16 PM

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Slaves as lucky duckies! This is too stupid for words.

Posted by: soup on January 28, 2004 08:19 PM

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You can tell when someone is stoned. He will either go on about the gold standard or perhaps solar energy. Roberts is clearly on something stronger.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 28, 2004 08:26 PM

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I don't have a link but long ago I read that in Louisiana up until 1960 no white man was ever convicted of murder for killing a black man. One spinoof of not being able to vote was not getting equal protection of the laws.

Louisiana is a well-populated state with a high murder rate. And occasionally a white man would be convicted of manslaughter or something. But not murder.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on January 28, 2004 08:29 PM

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IS it really true as Roberts says that American (as opposed to Greek and Roman slaves) could save to buy their freedom? Maybe in Maryland and New Orleans, but I can't imagine it ever happened on a cotton plantation.

Gene O'Grady

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on January 28, 2004 08:37 PM

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Economists aren't the only ones who have to deal with it. Political Theorists all have to read Robert Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia, which argues that taxation is either a kind of forced labor, or so indistinguishable from forced labor that any distinctions would be hair-splitting.

(Amazon search-inside-the-book for taxation will bring it up, it's the selections on page 169-170)

Posted by: DJW on January 28, 2004 08:42 PM

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We have a word, "literalist" for someone who has trouble freeming himself from the exact meaning of words and it blinds them. Do we have a word for people who are so taken with their own metaphors that their metaphors blind them from reality? See Thomas Friedman.

Posted by: KevinNYC on January 28, 2004 08:42 PM

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there's a very easy way to not pay any taxes, which I have been practicing for years. It's called not making enough money to pay taxes on.

anyone who's interested in the profitability of slavery should read Eric Williams's book "Slavery and Capitalism" it's based mostly on the british slaveholding colonies in the West Indies, and argues that it was very much a profitable enterprise, in the short-term, but that ultimately it was the unsustainability of the system which led to it's downfall, above and beyond any humanitarian sentiments in the British government. (run-on sentence my ass)

Posted by: Reading Redneck on January 28, 2004 08:58 PM

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There will always be those who prefer slavery with its imagined freedom from responsibility. In point of fact, there is no freedom without responsibility.

To oppose a graduated income tax is not sheer madness. If nothing else the bracket system stinks just on principle. To compare taxation to slavery is madness however. The rallying cry of the colonies wasn't Taxation or Freedom. It was Taxation without Representation. Since the wealthy are both more likely to be among the politically elite, or have influence amongst the political elite, one would say that they have recieved fair dollar value for their levy and tithe!

Posted by: Oldman on January 28, 2004 09:14 PM

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He's a columnist at www.vdare.com, where aliens of the immigrant kind are what they talk about. Typical of Mr. Roberts' ilk is the complete lack of aesthetic, the hideous vdare.com logo as example. If a *deer* in the logo of a web site selling Alien Nation (a book which I have not read but am familiar with it's content) is not uniquely American enough, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Phil on January 28, 2004 09:39 PM

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Googling for "paul craig roberts slave" turned up this related story:
http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=63

The final sentence would normally defy belief:
"At least a 19th century slave could run away, but where can we go?".

It's tempting to answer this guy's rhetorical question.

Posted by: Ernest Hammingweight on January 28, 2004 10:02 PM

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poopychutes:

Actually, cotton made up 60 percent of U.S. exports by 1860, so if slavery wasn't THE economic foundation of this country, it certainly disproportionately augmented its economic fortunes.

Posted by: ItAintEazy on January 28, 2004 10:24 PM

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  "Seriously, would any of you trade your modern status, even with high income taxes, for being a slave in the 1850 South"

No one proposes time travel, and this author is statement is nonsense.

But, let me point out that endentured servitude was quite common in early America and was a volunatary method to immigrate. Apprenticship is a voluntary reduction in grade accepted by all new trade union members. The concept of an apprentice evolved from the concept of an endentured servant.

Was slavery into America a good labor policy for Americans citizens? Heck no, if we have no slavery whatsoever, America would be a very much nicer place. I think that is what the outrages posters are implying, so I want all of you to go into America's black ghettos, get on a car top, and shout:

"If we had no slavery, America would be a much better place"


Posted by: Matt Young on January 28, 2004 10:25 PM

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"Not all slaves worked on cotton plantations."

Today's Tiny Irony: David Drake, arguably the most famous slave artisan in American history, lived and worked in Edgefield, South Carolina, the home town of Strom Thurmond.

Posted by: Ray Radlein on January 28, 2004 10:41 PM

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I don’t know if this true, but the rule of thumb of one manager for every ten workers comes from ancient Rome. A whip had the length to reach five slaves, so one “manager” could reach ten slaves (two directions) to keep them working.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 28, 2004 11:14 PM

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Does anyone know how much Paul Craig Roberts is selling himself for?

Posted by: No Name of the Mountain on January 28, 2004 11:31 PM

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What on earth will the history books call these guys? They are as deranged as the Bolsheviks or the Nazis, in their own way.

Posted by: marky on January 29, 2004 12:01 AM

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"If nothing else the bracket system stinks just on principle."

In principle I would agree. The best principle would assign fees for government services received. A flat tax to socialize the life insurance business might fits the best principle.

But, if we discover someday that a careful analysis shows the wealthy consume geometrically more government than the middle class, a graduated tax might be the most efficient assignement method.

Posted by: Matt Young on January 29, 2004 12:40 AM

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When he compares today's race- and gender-based rights unfavourably to the 1850s, what he's really complaining about is his feeling that today's are not HIS race and gender. It's sour grapes.

Posted by: Dave H on January 29, 2004 01:22 AM

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No Name of the Mountain

Paul Roberts is listed on Ebay right now. By chance, I happen to know the highest bidder, he's black.

Posted by: folgers on January 29, 2004 02:56 AM

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"so I want all of you to go into America's black ghettos, get on a car top, and shout ..."

Why not just say you think African-Americans ought to be grateful their ancestors were enslaved? You're really quite a piece of work.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on January 29, 2004 04:36 AM

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jl what that the john adams who welched on his debts to the brits?

Posted by: big al on January 29, 2004 04:36 AM

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"But, if we discover someday that a careful analysis shows the wealthy consume geometrically more government than the middle class, a graduated tax might be the most efficient assignement method."

I'd like to see that careful analysis done. In the meantime I suspect this notion is correct. Afterall our government is largely about protection and creation of wealth-- from the empire defense program related activities to the fire department plus a lot more in between. And the ones with the most wealth are getting most of this service.

Posted by: dennisS on January 29, 2004 05:36 AM

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DennisS,

This notion of externalities to government is the reason I like bringing up the Laffer Curve to anti-tax wingnuts. Laffer and his crowd focused on the high-tax end of the curve, at which taxes kill off all non-black-market economic effort. They neglect the other end of the curve (closer to which US tax rates certainly lie) where a lack of government leads to chaos, so a collapse of entrepreneurial effort (other than confiscatory entrepreneurship - steeling the other guys crops). Of course the rich benefit most from government. They benefit most from our economy, and our economy wouldn't exist without government. For the rich (or their apologists) to argue that government ought to be restricted to just those activities that foster accumulation and concentration of wealth is, very obviously, self-serving hypocracy.

Posted by: K Harris on January 29, 2004 05:56 AM

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It is more of the latter-day "conservatives' intellectual dishonesty that began back in the 1970s and 1980s. They reverse causality in the service of ideology. You know--welfare causes poverty, public education causes illiteracy, now civil rights movement causes inequality, all in order to attempt to discredit policies and programs they don't like to get them done away with. Reality doesn't enter into their analysis, no matter what statistics are invoked (see The Bell Curve, Laffer's economic writings, etc.). We now continually have to go to the trouble of correcting the historical record, and continue to do honest analysis, lest revisionist history of the know-nothing sort swamps the public square. This is annoying, time-consuming, and diverting of energy that could profitably go to other pursuits, but i am afraid we have no choice but to make the effort to correct idiots like him.

Charles

Posted by: charles on January 29, 2004 06:18 AM

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Not to get off topic or anything but how come if the IRS can track us "to the ends of the earth," if we leave the country to avoid taxes that the IRS doesn't have a squadron of agents in Bermuda to nab those corporate thugs and jail em (corporations have the same rights under the law as individuals).....so how come?

Posted by: Jeanne on January 29, 2004 07:09 AM

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I was flipping around the cable channels a few weeks ago and found Roberts on a panel with Chuck Shumer discussing a joint op-ed they had written on trade. My impression: they deserve each other. Strange bedfellows make strange politics, which is exactly what the emerging Democratid party orthodoxy on trade is fast becoming.

Posted by: Daniel L. Merriman on January 29, 2004 07:23 AM

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Back in the times of slavery in this nation there was no income tax, instead tariffs ruled the world and financed the US government. Tarriffs were one of the main reasons the South wanted to succeed from the Union. The North made up of industry, traders and and investors (Sounds like today's "investor class") liked the idea of a tax on consumption/tarriffs while the South comprised of farmers/plantaintion owners who in some small part were well educated like Jefferson and perhaps may have been considered wealthy as a result of their land holdings and eductions were in fact mostly cash poor relying more on barter to get the goods and services they wanted. THe book "The Great Tax WArs" goes into a lot of detail about this subject and is a most interesting read. Almost immediately after succeeding from the Union the South enacted an income tax and soon thereafter so did the North. By the way the tarriffs imposed during and after the war were on the goods utilized by the working stiff, beer, clothes, etc. that were staples of life. Again we had a situation where the rich were saying the poor should pay for everything and we should not have to pay. After all if you are poor a larger proportion of your income is consumed buying consumables while the rich the opposite is true as a percentage of income.

Posted by: Karl on January 29, 2004 07:32 AM

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"anyone who's interested in the profitability of slavery should read Eric Williams's book "Slavery and Capitalism""

Over the last couple of decades, a lot of scholarship has pretty well proved that Williams's thesis about the "unsustainability" of plantation slavery in the British colonies doesn't hold up. See the work of Seymour Drescher in particular, esp. his "Econocide."

"Slavery and Capitalism" is an important work, but it's by no means the final word on the subject.

Posted by: A Nitpicky Historian on January 29, 2004 07:50 AM

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Another quote from the Roberts blog. You have to love this reasoning.

"Any American who thinks he owns his labor can test the proposition by refusing to pay his income tax. He will quickly discover that he is not a free person."


OK, I own my house which has sizeable front and back yards. Is it OK for me to save on trash pickup and pile the garbage in my backyard? Note that there is plenty of space between my backyard and the nearest lake (about 50 meters). I think I will quickly discover that I am not a free person, as the city will soon start slapping fines and if these fines go unpaid I will soon find myself in a jail cell.


Posted by: CSTAR on January 29, 2004 08:00 AM

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Okay, that is the most disturbing thing I have read in a while. While I'll agree with conservatives on some matters of taxation, people like this guy and Norquist really make any productive debate impossible.

Posted by: psetzer on January 29, 2004 08:00 AM

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A few historical points to add to what Volokh said: In fact, the proportion of slaves in the arrangements Roberts talks about was small and declining in the 1850s, iirc. The slave's master could, if (s)he wished, take not some but all of the slave's earnings, which legally were entirely the master's property. Slaves working on their own in cities were not as free as anybody else: they were tightly regulated for fear of slave uprisings, and of course they had to be careful not to show "insolence" to whites, or risk punishment. Whether a master chose to allow a slave to purchase his/her freedom was entirely up to the master: it was entirely open to the master to promise it, then once the slave had earned the sum demanded to welch on the deal and simply take the money. And if the slave were allowed to purchase his (for convenience) freedom, he would often then be compelled to earn the money to purchase his wife and children, or be separated from them.

"Umm, I'd say that was circa 1750, before chattel slavery was legalized."

Slavery was legal in British North America long before 1750.

"But, let me point out that endentured [sic] servitude was quite common in early America and was a volunatary method to immigrate. Apprenticship is a voluntary reduction in grade accepted by all new trade union members. The concept of an apprentice evolved from the concept of an endentured servant."

But indentured servitude was only temporary, and when the servant's term expired, he or she would be given land. And apprenticeship did not evolve from indentured servitude, but from the medieval guild system.

Posted by: Adam Stephanides on January 29, 2004 08:16 AM

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Here's a test of a free person. At will employment, and the ability to leave the country permanently for anyone who'll have you.

You want to not pay taxes? Go find a libertarian dream state. What? There aren't any? Sucks to be you, dosen't it? Well, just be glad you were born in a country like the USA, and not in Iran, Burma, Nigeria, Laos, or any number of other countries where political power is defined by who's got the most frightening death squads.

Posted by: J.Jasper on January 29, 2004 08:19 AM

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K Harris,

Thanks for pointing out the Laffer Curve connection to this subject of who benefits most from govt. I wish we could supplement the theoretical with an easy-to-understand accounting. Even if the accounting ignored some of the less tangible ways wealthy American taxpayers benefit I think the picture would suprise a lot of people (ie. voters.)

Or, perhaps this has already been done but doesn't get the play it deserves. I'm still waiting for a brand name politician to make it a part of the conventional wisdom.

Posted by: dennisS on January 29, 2004 09:15 AM

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I'm surprised Volokh missed the most important and crucial difference: slaves don't get to vote for their masters.

Nail, head, bang.

There is a fundamental difference between paying taxes in a totalitarian state and paying taxes in a democracy, because there is a fundamental difference -- not in degree, but in kind -- between being represented and not.

The truly radical, frightening, and ultimately anti-American, anti-civilization, and anti-freedom aspect of the right/libertarian movement is that they do not recognize the difference between totalitarianism and representative democracy; they consider the latter to be nothing more than a weak version of the former.

"Un-American" is the only word I have for that. If they don't like representative democracy, they are free to go somewhere that doesn't have it.

Posted by: eyelessgame on January 29, 2004 10:54 AM

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To big al:
Did John Adams support the revolution to evade debts to the British?
Hey, let's not get too cynical. John Adams was a small time lawyer on the make at the beginning of the revolution. He had no debts of any significance that I know of. Maybe you are thinking of John Hancock.
Franklin didn't pay back several big debts, though. Apparently he reserved the right to judge for himself whether he or the creditor had the most use for the money.
Some of the posters make the very good point that the income tax was approved by the majority in a representative democracy, and the Consitution was amended in the usual way to permit it. So right wingnuts who simply scream about violated rights need to expand the scope of their arguments if they want to get anyone to listen.

Posted by: jml on January 29, 2004 11:23 AM

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If Terry McAuliffe had any smarts at all he would (a) call Charles Schumer and tell him to repudiate his association with Roberts' op-ed; and (b) issue a public demand that Ed Gillespie apologize for such hateful, misguided rhetoric coming from a member of a Republican administration. Hey, if the DNC is being asked to pay for the alleged sins of MoveOn.org, isn't turnabout fair play?

Posted by: Patience on January 29, 2004 03:04 PM

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Ah, yes, the government haters. They’ve been around forever, although I suppose the modern-day innovation is to have them employed by the government, like Mr. Craig.

Mark Twain captured their ignorant malice quite nicely in his immortal “Huckleberry Finn”, pages 33-35. An abridged version,follows. Huck is talking about his father, “Pap”.

**********************************

While I was cooking supper, the old man took a swig or two and got sort of warmed up, and took to ripping again. He had been drunk over in town, and laid in the gutter all night, and he was a sight to look at. A body would’a’ thought he was Adam--- he was just all mud. Whenever his liquor begun to work, he almost always went for the govment. This time he says:

“Call this a govment? Why, just look at it and see what it’s like...a man can’t get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes I’ve a mighty notion just to leave this country for good and all. Yes, and I told ‘em so...lots of ‘em heard me and can tell what I said. Says I, for two cents I’d leave the blamed country and never come a-near it ag’in. Them’s the very words...”

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there from Ohio--- a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain’t a man in town that’s got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane.... And what do you think? They said he was a p’fesser in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything.

“And that ain’t the wust. They said he could vote when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what’s the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself, if I weren’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a state in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote ag’in. Them’s the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me--- I’ll never vote ag’in as long as I live.

“And to see the cool way of that nigger--- why he wouldn’t ‘a’ give me the road if I hadn’t shoved him out of the way...Here’s a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet’s got to sit stock-still for six whole months before it can take a-hold of a prowling, thieving, infernal , white shirted free nigger, and---”

Pa was a-goin’ on so he never noticed where his old limber legs was taking him to, so he went head over heels over the tub of salt pork and barked both shins, and the rest of his speech was all the hottest kind of language---mostly hove at the nigger and the govment, though he gave the tub some, too, all along here and there.”

Posted by: glenstonecottage on January 29, 2004 05:08 PM

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This country was set up to funnel money to the rich. This is really the only debat that should matter from K Harris:

"Of course the rich benefit most from government. They benefit most from our economy, and our economy wouldn't exist without government. For the rich (or their apologists) to argue that government ought to be restricted to just those activities that foster accumulation and concentration of wealth is, very obviously, self-serving hypocracy."

The rest of our petty little arguments in society and all the sniping are diversions from the fact that the rich use government to stay rich and maintain their control.

Posted by: Phil on January 29, 2004 06:02 PM

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I've often heard claims like:

"If nothing else the bracket system stinks just on principle."

I've never understood them. I've always favored progressive taxation on a straight 19th century declining marginal utility of money/equality of pain/the wealthy benefit most from government arguement, with a little 20th century Rawlsianism and equality of opportunity thrown in. I've yet to see this (quite simple) reasoning even confronted in any plausible way (I have seen attempts, but they were obviously dishonest). Would anyone like to do so, or even provide a pointer (NOT to Nozick, please).

Posted by: Jonathan Goldberg on January 29, 2004 08:37 PM

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But how different does this guy sound from many other libertarians?

..."Civil Rights revolution destroyed equality before the law. Today rights are race-and gender-based"...

When more reasonable libertarian-types (who are just more careful with their language) focus on affirmative action (or illegal immigrants)...I think we know what they mean. They just reeeeeally believe in equality before the law, and the numerous preferences given to blacks are the most egregious violation of this principle. It's totally proportional - any rich, uptight, self-centered, whiny and beleagured white guy could tell you that.

Oh yeah, and political correctness. The unconstitutional infringements on the rights of whites to be dumbasses are the greatest threats to our democracy.


Glenstonecottage: great quote. The guy sounds like my dad, just of a different century.

Posted by: andrew on January 30, 2004 02:34 AM

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I could rant. First of all: Roberts; ignorant, materialist "monotheist". (As in, property=God.) Dangerous. Nuff said.

If you follow the property rights argument to its conclusion you get to Athens. Owners and slaves, not-so-benign depotism. End of liberal democracy.

There's no reason to go into the illogic of superstitious social Darwinism. It's reasoning was destroyed 100 years ago.

Yeah, Rove likes Wm. McKinley. Sad and dangerous.

Posted by: Stephen Calhoun on January 30, 2004 06:00 AM

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>

What also gets lost in this debate is a reality that most WASP males don't want to face: They had affirmative action for nearly two hundred years in this country. This is what really, truly angers the radical right. Good jobs are disappearing, now, not because our economy is less vibrant so much as that now women and minorities have greater and greater access to those jobs, and, quite frankly, many of them have been willing to work more cheaply because ANYTHING they earned was better than the NOTHING (or next to it) that they earned in the past. And of course the corporations take advantage of this.

When seen in this context, the Civil Rights movement actually benefitted the bottom line of Corporate America. They're having their cake and eating it, too: They benefit, but they're the very ones bitching the most about it, to keep us diverted from how they're shaking us down while MORE of these low-paid workers are available to shoulder more of the massa's tax burden.

But what do I know...?

Posted by: LJ on January 30, 2004 09:28 AM

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You know, I've been thinking about this idiot Craig for a couple of days now. They say that he's not the only one spouting this lunacy comparing taxes with some imaginary form of "slavery", which he gets to define for us.

His comments reveal a depth of deliberate ignorance about the REAL history of slavery that can only be compared to the sick fantasies peddled by holocaust deniers.


How I'd love to see Mr. Craig and other bigmouths of his ilk live through a few years of actual, real-life slavery.

In fact, I think a lot of us would be happy to pool our money and pay his taxes for him if he did that.

But since progressives from a by-gone era took the responsibility of eradicating slavery from most of the western world (probably over the loud protest of ignorant, bigmouth a-holes like Mr. Craig's ancestors)I guess we'll never be able to call him on it.

Posted by: glenstonecottage on January 30, 2004 09:42 AM

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I'm probably the only poster left on this thread, but I honestly can't quite get past the ideas expressed by a nominally educated person like Paul Craig Roberts.

Aren't even his fellow conservatives appalled by this moron's narcissism, greed, complete ignorance of history, and lack of compassion for the victims of real-life slavery?

He offers us a unique vision of today's neoconservatives: a bunch of spoiled brats crying "Me no WANNA pay taxes! Why you treat me like SLAVE, mommy?"

Posted by: glenstonecottage on January 31, 2004 11:58 AM

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glenstonecottage writes: "How I'd love to see Mr. Craig and other bigmouths of his ilk live through a few years of actual, real-life slavery."

I wonder how much he'd pay every year to be free of the whip...

As much as he pays in taxes?

Posted by: Jon H on January 31, 2004 12:04 PM

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"But, if we discover someday that a careful analysis shows the wealthy consume geometrically more government than the middle class, a graduated tax might be the most efficient assignement method."

The problem is that *wealth* should be taxed. And the wealthy would pay a far higher amount, I reckon, if there was a flat tax on wealth than graduated taxes on income.

Posted by: liberal on January 31, 2004 02:39 PM

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Now fast-forward a century from Slavery to the Third Reich. The German people have "elected" Der Fuehrer, although it appears that will be their last free election (just as it appears 2000 was ours). But they are safe and secure in free 'democracy', able to follow their affairs, move about, purchase what they wish, and to a certain extent, freely associate. However, as Orwell put it, some are more free than others, and the Juden are being rounded up, as the young men of age are being marched off to endless pre-emptive war. Still, it's democracy, morally, ethically Der Homelandt. Would you trade today's America for Jefferson's? Is slavery the shackles on your two feet, or is it your social security number tatooed on a digital biopic? Are you free just because you howl at the moon in your cage? Are Satan's minions less evil with velvet chains?

Now get back to work.

Posted by: Trebor Howard on February 1, 2004 01:22 AM

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Jonathan Goldberg: "I've never understood them. I've always favored progressive taxation on a straight 19th century declining marginal utility of money/equality of pain/the wealthy benefit most from government arguement, with a little 20th century Rawlsianism and equality of opportunity thrown in."

Not to mention efficiency (minimizing deadweight loss) arguments....

glenstonecottage: "Aren't even his fellow conservatives appalled by this moron's narcissism, greed, complete ignorance of history, and lack of compassion for the victims of real-life slavery?"

I would say most of them (pace Volokh) would find his arguments offensive. However, I think with conservatives this might stem more from Roberts' lack of proportion, or perspective, in comparing taxes to slavery - after all, conservatives tend to think about things like "compassion" and "victim" differently than liberals....

Roberts whole piece is wacky, but especially wacky is the idea that "no American today can purchase his freedom from the IRS," because you can obviously move to another country, or else you can retire, take a chunk of your wealth, hand it to your accountant, tell him to handle that IRS thing for you, and never to bother you. That's as free as you get from anything, in this life, and purchased too.

There is a many a conservative (and at least one late Beatle) with a bug up his/her ass about paying taxes, and who perhaps don't have a very good understanding of taxation as it relates to the public goods they consume, the free rider problem, etc etc etc. But then perhaps for every such conservative, there is a liberal (or two or three) who has the same problem with incentive effects, bureaucracy, and so on....

Posted by: Joe Mealyus on February 1, 2004 01:39 AM

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RE: The final sentence would normally defy belief:
"At least a 19th century slave could run away, but where can we go?".

It's tempting to answer this guy's rhetorical question. [posted by Ernest Hammingweight]

Now papa, stop tolling his bell.

Posted by: KLA on February 1, 2004 07:34 AM

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lewrockwell.com
February 2, 2004
 

Why You Don’t Want To Be a Columnist

by Paul Craig Roberts
by Paul Craig Roberts

        

From time to time people write to me asking how they can become columnists. I tell them that they do not want to become columnists. Read on.

Many years ago when I was offered an appointment at the University of Rochester, I remember wide-ranging discussions of economic issues with the many distinguished economists who were at Rochester at that time. One Rochester theory that has stuck in my mind these many years is that the news media deals in entertainment, not in information.

This was before I became a part-time columnist, which I did in order to explain supply-side economics, rather than to allow its opponents to define it. In my quarter century of writing columns (Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Script Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate), I have often wondered whether readers read my articles for entertainment or for information.

The Rochester theory, if I remember correctly, included as entertainment writing that massaged and verified the opinions of the readers. Most readers want to read what they agree with, not to have their blood pressure driven up by the babbling of some fool. Whether a columnist is an intellect or an idiot depends on the prejudices, information, and misinformation present in the reader.

Having had thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of responses over the years, my poll results indicate that there is much truth in the Rochester theory of media. There are always a relatively few thoughtful people who write to express appreciation for a new insight, for giving them a different way of looking at an issue, for exploring ramifications not previously investigated, and for providing new information.

However, most readers either tell you how smart you are for agreeing with them or how dumb you are for writing what you did. Some even read your clear prose and come to the conclusion that you have said something entirely different, often the opposite, to what you did say.

The more misinformed a reader is and the more personally or emotionally involved the reader is with the issue, the more likely the reader is to spew venom and read you out of the human race.

I can illustrate this conclusion with a wide range of examples, but two recent ones will do.

My last column critiqued the Heritage Foundation’s freedom index. I pointed out, correctly, that the index abstracts from the historical definition of freedom: self-ownership. A person who does not own the product of his own labor is a serf or a slave. The Heritage index ranks many countries as free despite income tax systems that claim the same share of peoples’ incomes as feudal lords or 19th century slave owners.

I also pointed out, correctly, that historically, the drive toward freedom was a drive toward equality in law, and that the civil rights revolution had failed in this respect and, instead, revived status-based privileges.

I also noted, correctly, that the Blackstonian principles that made law accountable and a shield of the innocent had been eroded.

In conclusion I noted that if we had a true measure of our freedom, neoconservatives could claim far less virtue for the US and would have a weaker case for imposing our virtue on others.

Libertarians loved this column. Some even wrote that they forgave me for co-authoring that article about free trade with Senator Schumer.

Statists, however, went berserk. Brad DeLong, apparently an economics professor at UC Berkeley, whose load is so light that he has time to run a web site for people who worship government, gave me a new, very long, name: "Paul Slaves Were Happy! And Well Cared-For! Really Happy! Much Happier Than People Like Me, Who Have to Fill Out Schedule C Craig Roberts."

Of course, I said nothing in my column about the happiness or emotional state of slaves. I merely noted that they owned about as much of their own labor (necessary for subsistence and reproduction) as the modern successful American. The modern American, of course, is much more productive due to technology and accumulated capital, so his living standard is higher, but not his self-ownership.

This difference was too much for Professor DeLong to comprehend. The professor, however, was the model of intelligence compared to fans of his web site. Commentators damned me for failing to acknowledge that our government’s claims on the products of our labor are morally justified, because our government uses our incomes to do good for others, whereas the slave’s owner selfishly used what he extracted from the slave.

That I was against race and gender privileges was proof that I am a racist and a sexist. Moreover, it proved Ronald Reagan was, too, because he appointed me to the Treasury.

Many concluded that I was in favor of slaves being raped and lynched and having their families broken up. Some were so worked up against me that I might have been physically assaulted had I been present.

All in all an amazing response to a valid critique of an index of economic freedom. My conclusion from this experience is that the Rochester theory needs to be modified. The statists on DeLong’s web site were having every bit as much enjoyment, if not more, than the libertarians who appreciated the power of my argument. People do seek out contrary opinion, not to test their own, but to beat it up in demonstration of their moral superiority.

Before going to the next example, note the extreme degree of misinformation about basic economics on the web site of a Berkeley professor of economics. The professor and the commentators assume that people purchased slaves in order to mistreat them. A slave’s life consisted of whippings, having his daughters sold into prostitution, having his wife raped, being spat upon, kicked, starved, and murdered.

Only a deranged person would treat his investment in these ways. To starve or murder a slave is to destroy one’s investment. To mistreat a slave is to incur his ill will and to receive sullen, less productive performance. A regime of mistreatment creates powerful incentives to run away, thus losing one’s investment.

Some people are self-destructive and do behave irrationally. So does the government when it locks away billionaires like Michael Milken on trumped-up charges and forbids him from practicing his lucrative profession, thus denying the government a life-long stream of revenues at the maximum tax rate.

But, of course, if the government locks us all up, there will be no revenues. Indeed, people would revolt and kill the government. If slaves had been generally mistreated, Lincoln would have succeeded in stirring up a slave revolt when the South’s men were away at war and only women and children were left on the plantations to control the slaves.

To make these points is not to endorse slavery. I don’t even endorse the good kind of slavery that DeLong and his crowd like – the income tax. But it is to wonder about an economics professor and his fans who believe that profit maximization was not operative on cotton plantations.

Now for the second example: my columns on the US invasion of Iraq. When the World Trade Towers were destroyed, I took a hard line toward terrorism, but one far from invading and conquering the Muslim Middle East. I had not paid much attention to neoconservatives and thought of them as people who had opposed Soviet aims and who opposed the deconstruction of American values by cultural Marxists in the universities.

In response to my defense of America, kudos poured in, hundreds at a time, from readers of Heritage’s TownHall site. I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, I soon perceived the neocons’ intentions and declared neocons to be Jacobins outside the American tradition. I argued that conquering and occupying the Middle East was beyond our strength, against our interests and against Israel’s interests, as the unintended consequence would be to radicalize and to unify the Muslims.

To those who argued that Jews would suffer a second holocaust if we didn’t establish by force of arms democratic states and a deracinated Islam throughout the Middle East, I replied that such an undertaking would be a strategic blunder. Much better, I said, to offer the Israeli population refuge in the US. It was a rhetorical point to stress the danger to Israel of the neocons’ aggressive agenda.

The TownHall readers who loved me the week before now regarded me as an unpatriotic, pinko-liberal-commie, and a coward to boot, whom they would never read again. And TownHall has seen to it that they don’t get the chance. People started writing about how I had been a left-winger all my life and had infiltrated the Reagan administration in order to destroy conservatism with big deficits.

But this response was mild compared to what my offer of refuge to Israelis was to bring. A few Jews wrote to me and expressed appreciation for my awareness that generalized violence in the Middle East would forever end Israel’s prospects. However, Zionists from all over the world saw nothing but anti-semitism in my offer of refuge to five million Jews. During the 1930s it was anti-semitic to refuse refuge; in the 21st century it is anti-semitic to offer it, even as a rhetorical point.

One comment from a person from Pittsburgh proudly sporting M.D. and J.D. after his name: "Welcome to the vermin’s nest of virulent anti-Semites. Jews and the State of Israel need to be revitalized from time to time by asinine and vicious comments uttered by rotten bastards like you."

The outrage of Zionists was matched by the outrage of anti-semites, who told me in no uncertain terms that I should have been aborted, not born, that there were too many Jews in the US already, that I was a dirty Jew-loving commie pig for wanting to bring 5 million more Jews to America. And these were just for warm-ups.

One well-reasoned column making a rhetorical point produced a flood of virulent denunciation in which Zionists and anti-semites joined, their words and phrases interchangeable.

What I have learned from my life as a scholar, a public policymaker, and a columnist is that issues cannot be addressed until there is a crisis. Until a paradigm breaks down, it is difficult for a scholar with a different view to get a hearing. He is not so much shouted down as ignored. Keynesian demand management was immune from criticism until it collapsed in stagflation. A columnist who tries to check popular impulse is shouted down or run over.

The successful columnist is the one who understands that the job is one of entertainer. He finds an audience to which to play and gives up on educating anyone on any issue.

February 2, 2004

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Copyright © 2004 Creators Syndicate

Paul Craig Roberts Archives

                 

 

Back to LewRockwell.com Home Page

Posted by: paul craig roberts on February 2, 2004 07:20 AM

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"The professor and the commentators assume that people purchased slaves in order to mistreat them. A slave’s life consisted of whippings, having his daughters sold into prostitution, having his wife raped, being spat upon, kicked, starved, and murdered.

"Only a deranged person would treat his investment in these ways. To starve or murder a slave is to destroy one’s investment. To mistreat a slave is to incur his ill will and to receive sullen, less productive performance. A regime of mistreatment creates powerful incentives to run away, thus losing one’s investment."

Mr. Roberts, I am named after my 7-g grandfather, a Virginian, ship's captain, and slavetrader. Most of his descendents, my ancestors, were slaveowners right until the abolition of slavery.

I understand, as probably does every other poster at this site, that my ancestors were economically rational people who did not become slavetraders or slaveowners out of cruelty, or a desire to mistreat slaves. So please don't make us out to be fools.

What is undeniably true, if you were willing to be at all honest about the actual history of slavery, is that cruel, even terroristic acts were considered an entirely NECESSARY price of maintaining the institution of slavery. I'm sure my ancestors considered these cruelties a regrettable cost of doing business, and greatly preferred to choose kindness whenever possible, but I encourage you to look into the facts about the unspeakably cruel manner in which all slaves were brought to North America, and the way most were treated after their arrival.

I have no doubt that my ancestors justified their behaviour on the grounds that they didn't consider black people to be fully human beings, but something more akin to beasts of burden.

Most of us know nowadays that this kind of racism is scientifically and morally wrong. And your callous use of "slavery" in whining about having to pay your taxes--- BTW, what great civilization didn't pay taxes in some form?--- shows a remarkable lack of knowledge of, or concern about the actual cruelty experienced by many, most, if admittedly not all, slaves.

Yours was a ridiculous, inappropriate and over-the-top analogy: as if I compared my uncomfortable ride in a crowded subway car with Jews riding in a cattle car to Auschwitz.

I know you probably won't give a shit, but I thought I'd try to explain to you how people who have actual compassion for those less fortunate than themselves feel. You strike me as the kind of person who's too self-centred to have compassion for others, or do anything but feel sorry for yourself for all the (sob! sniff!)taxes you have to pay. You think us "statists" don't have to pay taxes?

Posted by: glenstonecottage on February 3, 2004 09:09 PM

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Paul Craig Roberts, you wrote:
"Only a deranged person would treat his investment in these ways. To starve or murder a slave is to destroy one's investment. To mistreat a slave is to incur his ill will and to receive sullen, less productive performance. A regime of mistreatment creates powerful incentives to run away, thus losing one's investment."

Nice theory, but you should study history; you clearly never did.

The greatest risk to investment perceived by the slaveholders were
* slave revolts (a la Haiti, where there was a sucessful revolt which destroyed slavery and the plantation system there)
* slaves running away
A regime of terror, torture and imprisonment was used to prevent these possibilities. Sure, this increased the desire of slaves to run away or revolt -- but they *already* wanted to a great deal (because they had no control over their lives), so that made no difference to the big slaveholders. In other words, the ill will was already there.

Instead, the slaveholders simply prevented escape through a police-state system under which any black found outside the plantation had to have papers, groups being moved were chained by hands, feet, and neck, and the slightest rules infraction was punished by prolonged torture. Revolt was quite thoroughly dealt with by "community punishment" -- torture of anyone in the same area as those who revolted.

Slaveholders liked to advertise the "good darkies", but they were effectively a myth -- during the Civil War, many were shocked to discover their "loyal" slaves turning on them as soon as the Union Army arrived. You seem to have bought into the myth lock, stock, and barrel.

Whatever you may say about taxes today, even income tax resisters, who may be put in minimum-security prisons, are treated far, far better than obedient, "well-treated" slaves in the American South.

Posted by: anon on February 6, 2004 02:48 AM

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I would like to get more inofs about

Posted by: Good Heidi on March 17, 2004 04:52 PM

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Cultivated people foster what is good in others, not what is bad. Petty people do the opposite.

Posted by: Nordeng Amy on May 2, 2004 11:56 AM

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When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.

Posted by: Saunders Patricia on May 3, 2004 12:18 AM

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Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.

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It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation.

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