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Brendan L
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
Response on 04/29/2011 03:36:19 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by mechB on 07/14/2011 10:58:39 MDT.

Brendan L
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
nm on 04/29/2011 03:44:48 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by mechB on 07/14/2011 10:59:25 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Longest BPL post ever? on 04/29/2011 04:13:51 MDT Print View

Brendan,

Kudos for taking the time and presenting your thoughts. Wish we had more young people like you. Unfortunately, it is late for me (nearly 3:00 AM) and I am working on a project for a client that I need to complete. So not a lot of feedback right now.

By the way, please call me Nick.

You are correct in that all of this is a philosophic issue; Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics. And the problem today is many people cannot identify and apply each of these with total consistency in everything they do, they want to pick and choose whatever is practical or expedient at the moment.

Given your effort, you deserve some thoughtful feedback, and it needs to be in a positive manner, a conversation without emotion. Sometimes in Chaff, things get really heated and you do not deserve that. So give me some time to digest your opus magnum, and we can begin the great conversation.

Oh and the gorilla :)

Ben calls welfare and defense the 600 lb gorillas, and I happen to agree with him. We need to tackle both those problems. George Matthews (hope I spelled it right) is a new "convert" to Vibram 5 Fingers, and his avatar is two Vibram ape feet, which I have kidded him about. I noticed he turned the avatar into a graphic representation. Just kidding between and them. All in good fun.

Thanks for all the effort you put into this.

- Nick

or is it nick@nite ?

Brendan L
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
nm on 04/29/2011 04:49:21 MDT Print View

.

Edited by mechB on 07/14/2011 11:12:53 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Earth (mostly)
The problem with our current flat tax system... on 04/29/2011 07:47:25 MDT Print View

The US already has a flat tax, when payroll taxes, municipal, and state taxes are accounted for ... the highest income groups only pay 1% more than the rest ... US total taxes . It's not really working due to the revenue needed.

There's the actual income tax but there's a slew of other federal taxes, municipal taxes, district taxes, county taxes, state taxes, plus fees, fines, lotto, etc..... flat to actually regressive ADD: Not sure they looked at the last item.

All owe federal income tax starting at $1,but the truly poor get an earned income tax credit (EIC) nullifying their income tax (note: they still pay all the other taxes).

Estimating a flat income tax on low income (= 68% of those NOT paying income tax = 100 mill multiplied by tax due on very little income .. assume single - note: paying my own income tax at the time ... no EIC ...lol), comes out to approx $1 billion dollars to the feds. Considering this would be an insignificant add to the budget, plus likely generate (1) more than $1 billion worth of new social programs ... and (2) much more black market activity, almost impossible to measure. You think there's problems with illegal pot farms and meth labs now?

Remember, EIC was the brain-child of conservatives Milton Friedman and Richard Nixon - it's cheaper. Playing with the rates for low-income types gives slightly less or more than $1 billion, which really doesn't feed the current budget dillema or the looming Medicare crunch. At a certain point, the numbers take on a life of their own requiring serious revenue.

Edited by hknewman on 04/30/2011 17:07:43 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 04/29/2011 08:35:19 MDT Print View

Being a native Oregonian, I think the sales tax is ridiculous - taxes poor people more than rich on a percent of income basis. Rich people invest a lot of their income, poor people spend all of theirs.

It's too complicated to collect. It spreads the tax out to where you won't notice it, better to see your annual tax return with your total tax for the year, more honest.

Flat tax has some merits, but it's not the tax brackets that's the problem, it's the loopholes - we should get rid of those but Roger may be right there - impossible to accomplish. Amazingly, the Republicon Boener said we should at least look at the oil company loopholes and in the current atmosphere it might be possible.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
GE on 04/29/2011 09:09:05 MDT Print View

I'm kind of worried that GE and the like (1) lost money in the crash, (2) enjoyed special financing from the Fed to get them on their feet, and then (3) paid no tax as a result of "(1)". That just doesn't seem to balance to me.

... but, there is this thing called "rational disinterest." It says that if the budget process isn't really at a place where we can have an impact, it's much more reasonable to worry about pack weight.

("look at us, we got special discount window financing not available to all you little people ... and we made PROFIT!")

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/29/2011 09:15:13 MDT Print View

Wow, I thought I was going to agree (for the first time) with one of Jerry's Chaff posts, and then he started talking about oil company loopholes. And he was soooooo close.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: GE on 04/29/2011 09:20:43 MDT Print View

GE paid politicians to put in special loopholes so they don't have to pay any tax, actually get money back (negative tax).

GE is classified as a bank (because they paid politicians to change rules) so they could get special Federal Reserve loans.

My questions is, were the Federal Reserve Loans just short term, so they didn't go bankrupt when they ran out of cash short term? Or do they get long term loans at almost zero interest and then loan it to someone else at higher interest? And is that why all the banks are so profitable right now?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/29/2011 09:25:17 MDT Print View

"Wow, I thought I was going to agree (for the first time) with one of Jerry's Chaff posts, and then he started talking about oil company loopholes. And he was soooooo close."

So, oil company loopholes are good?

It's okay that Chevron and Exxon pay a negative tax?

It's good we agreed about the sales tax : )

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/29/2011 11:03:40 MDT Print View

Call it whatever you want, but CORPORATE welfare dollars are the same as POOR and/or ELDERLY FOLKS welfare dollars.

The illusion that the former is GOOD for us and that the latter is BAD is created by LOBBYISTS.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/29/2011 17:51:16 MDT Print View

"There are so many variables here."

Indeed there are, and Craig spelled them out pretty well.

"And yes there are some really bad companies out there."

Lower labor costs, lax or nonexistent environmental regulations, weak labor protections are attractive to good companies as well as bad, and both types take advantage of this.

"But many companies have gone off-shore because it has been the only way they can compete in a world market"

A classic race to the bottom isn't it? Except for the execs and shareholders. I guess it'll all work out when our wage levels, environmental regulations, etc sink to the level of the countries where so many of our jobs have gone, or some midpoint closer to the low end fo the scale.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/30/2011 18:43:24 MDT Print View

"Hi Tom,

How you been?"

Doing well, Nick, er...Saint Nick. ;)


"BTW, gambling losses are deductible, but only as much as you won... no more :)"

Whew! That's comforting. I think....

"Unfortunately we, the government, built the roulette and crap tables the lenders used to gamble on in the form of central banking, FANNIE and FREDDIE, etc. They played the game we created, and we couldn't cover the bets"

I think that's pretty small potatoes compared to the newest game in town, derivatives. It's a $600 trillion, that's right, trillion game, invented by a bunch of sharks several orders of magnitude smarter than the bureaucrats who came up with the Freddie/Fannie game. Still going strong, and there's no way we're going to be able to bail them out if that game folds.

As far as Medicare, I completely agree, even though I posted tongue in cheek just to rib you a little. Actually, I would take it one step further and apply a Medicare model to everyone, i.e. a single payer system and thereby relieve the corporations of a huge impediment to being competitive in the global market place.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You Fix the Budget Deficit on 04/30/2011 20:54:20 MDT Print View

ape feet


Brendan's post and Nick's upcoming post - will read both when I am well rested. My old frail mind can not handle thinking today.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Response on 05/31/2011 00:46:26 MDT Print View

Brendan,

I promised to respond to your thoughts a while ago. If you check my posts, you will see I have pretty much not posted at all for the past month, as I have been mostly traveling or hiking. I would like to start with the very beginning of your post…

“If I'm going to explain my ideas, then I first need to explain the philosophical perspective from which I'm deriving them. As explained by Alfred Marshall, the grandfather of neoclassical economics (he's the Newton of classical mechanics, so to speak): ‘...in the broader uses of [economic studies], when they are being applied to practical problems, the economist, like every one else, must concern himself with the ultimate aims of man.’ ”

----------------------------

“The ultimate aims of man” assumes that the “aims” can be applied to all. Unfortunately, man is not a single organism, but a collection of individuals. And as such, how can one determine anything that can classified as a universal aim of man? All we need is one exception, and then it is no longer the ultimate aim of all men. So you (via Marshall) are presenting the morality of socialism/communism, versus the morality of capitalism.

The philosophy of modern capitalism finds the moral basis in individual rights; not in responsibility for others, as socialism/communism advocates. It states that individuals have a “natural right” to their property and economic self-interest, which is independent of any obligation to serve their fellow men. And where in the US do we find this statement of rights? We find it in the Declaration of Independence. To study the philosophy that influenced this document, we need to study John Locke. Some of the wording is almost taken verbatim from Locke’s works.

And is the Declaration of Independence important or applicable today? Yes, it is the absolute basis of our government and system of law. Actually it is one of the 3 core documents that are the basis of our law, or the Organic Law of the United States, which is called the United States Code (the other two are the Articles of Confederation, and the Northwest Ordinance). This is the basis of the US government and the rights of individuals; not the socialist mumblings of a British economist, who begat the communist (Alfred Marshall -> John Maynard Keynes). A more rational study of economics would be the Austrian School, such as Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises.

All of this is so crucial… the natural rights of each individual is the basis of our government. We all have the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. That's it. No more or less. We do not have a right to a job, or a right to health care, or a right to financial security. We have a right to secure them for ourselves, by our own efforts. The purpose of our government is to protect these individual rights by providing police to protect us from criminals, a military to protect us from foreign invaders, and a system of laws and courts to adjudicate disputes among the members of society. What is unique about the formation of the USA was the intent to protect the people FROM government (e.g., limited government).

Regarding taxes...We all have the responsibility to pay for the legitimate functions of government as stated above, and since we are all created equal, each of us is responsible to pay our equal share. That is it. Limited government, and equal treatment under the law (i.e. equal taxation). If someone has more ability than others and can make more money, it is unequal treatment under the organic law of the land to tax that person more.

This is the purpose and function of government in the US. The Declaration of Independence cannot be amended or restricted. Economic theories are fine to study, but nothing can be put in place that restricts the rights set out in the Declaration of Independence.

Brendan L
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
nm on 06/04/2011 02:57:46 MDT Print View

.

Edited by mechB on 07/14/2011 11:13:28 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Response on 06/04/2011 11:25:12 MDT Print View

"As a (local, national, global) society, what should be our short and long term goals? Ultimately, these questions can only be resolved by considering the deeply philosophical issue of the meaning of life itself. As individuals, families, communities, and nations (as well as all other forms of social organization), we cannot make any sound decisions without first rooting ourselves firmly in a philosophical basis, which itself is derived from differing interpretations on the meaning of life (the "ultimate aims of man")."
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As individuals and families we can set our own goals and ultimate aims. This way the economy fulfills each individual's needs. To move beyond the individual and set goals or aims beyond the basic protection of each individual's rights, you will exclude some members of society, that is some people will be denied their natural rights. To tax me to pay for the education of others, health care of others, or income security of others denies me full access to my efforts, my property, and my pursuit of happiness. It abridges my life and my liberty. It denies me access to my basic rights. To tax me to support police or military is just, because it protects me and my rights; and it is the sole justification of our government. To tax me a percentage of my income and force me to pay more dollars for the police or military is wrong. Just because I have the ability to earn more money than others, is no justification to treat me differently under the law. The cost of police and military costs a certain amount of money for each individual, and each individual should pay an equal share. To tax me according to my ability, and then use the money to provide for each according to their need, is a system that is against everything our organic law is meant to protect.




"It is an inescapable fact that we need to make decisions on a higher stratum than that of the individual."
----------------
Why? By doing so, you will restrict or limit the rights of some members of society. That denies the basic rights of some individuals.




"You claim that the Declaration of Independence is the “absolute basis of our government and our system of law”. That is not true. The U.S. Constitution holds that distinction."
----------------
The organic law of the United States does not include the Constitution. The Constitution only has two purposes. The first is to LIMIT the federal government, by constructing the three branches and explaining how the government will be set up using a system of checks and balances. It is very explicit in how it works, and was NOT designed to be a living document open to interpretation. Changes to how it works require an amendment. The second purpose was to enumerate some rights that the government cannot limit (e.g., The Bill of Rights). Some of our founding fathers were against including the Bill of Rights, because the rights of man had already been defined in the Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights was designed to communicate that these 10 rights are PART of those rights that the Declaration put forth; they were designed to ensure that these rights were not limited by government, not meant to be the definition of our basic rights. The basic rights were already spelled out in the Declaration of Independence.





"Also, even if you were to adopt “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as your basis for the powers that government should and should not have, are such vague ideas that you could justify very nearly anything based on that. For instance, you said that we have a right to life that should be protected by the government, but then in the next breath say that we do not have the right to health care. Perhaps not, but if the government is supposed to protect our right to life as you say, it is consistent that we allow many people within our country to die because they cannot afford life-saving medical treatments? Is it right that pollution from power plants, predominately coal-fired plants, are estimated to cause 13,000 premature deaths per year (by the American Lung Association, these aren’t numbers from Greenpeace or something), as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma, strokes, lung disease/cancer, birth defects, etc.? Should the government not have the power to stop this if, as you say, it should protect peoples’ right to life? What I’m driving at is that these rights, by themselves, aren’t a very good basis for decision making or government power. Important, yes. But they need to be defined more clearly to be useful at all."
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Our founding fathers already adopted “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and they are not vague ideas… they are the reason our government was formed, to protect those rights. And the intent was to limit government, so it could not limit those rights in any way. They ARE the only moral decision making basis for our government. The government does not protect our right to life, it protects our basic natural rights... life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness. It is up to each individual to determine how they will live their life. Pursuit of happiness does not guarantee happiness; it only allows you to pursue it in your own way and definition. Since each individual is guaranteed these rights, no individual can restrict the natural rights of another individual. No individual can initiate force against another or abridge their right to life, liberty, property, or pursuit of happiness. Should any right of an individual be restricted or abridged (as your example of pollution), the Constitution set up a judicial system to adjudicate such crimes against others. The right to life means that as human beings we have a right to live our life, that is, we have the right not to be killed by another human being. It does not mean we have the right to demand someone to save our life if we are ill, or get lost in the wilderness when backpacking, or demand that the government protect us from wild animals. I do not see any right to health care, guaranteed income security, or a mandate for the military to enjoin world peace or intervene in the matters of any country that has not invaded our country in our organic law. We do not allow people to die, by denying free health care. They die due to natural causes. Just because someone has invested the money to invent a life saving device or the skills to save life, does not mean that everyone has a claim or demand to obtaining those medical advances. They would have died without them. The General Welfare clause appears twice in the Constitution. By General it is meant that the government will act in the best interest of ALL. To gain a better understanding of what this means, we need to look at the General Welfare clause of the Articles of Confederation (another piece of our organic law), "the States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever."








"I’m not trying to downplay the importance of individual choice and liberty, nor am I trying to characterize governments as infallible or even remotely efficient or even effective at what they should do. The purpose of these economic theories (many of which, again, I disagree with—I can elaborate later) is to serve as a tool for helping to solve some of these problems that we know exist within our society, problems that certainly won’t solve themselves (even given zero government involvement, as an Austrian economist may offer as a solution). As I stated earlier, these theories also need ethical context to guide them."
--------------
We cannot downplay the importance of individual choice and liberty. It is the reason the United States was formed. It was/is the only government ever created, whose sole purpose was to protect the individual from government. Based on this purpose, there is only one economic system that permits each individual to chart their own purpose in life and allow the pursuit of happiness, while protecting their life, their liberty, and their PROPERTY. We can use the study of economics to understand how things work, but we cannot adopt any economic system that abridges our basic natural rights. If we look at the major political parties today, they all want to abridge our rights in some manner. Democrats, Republicans, and the Tea Party all want to enforce something that restricts our basic human rights. The Libertarians have other issues and move away from the purpose of our government with some anarchist theories.

Two very important reads are the "The Discovery of Freedom," by Rose Wilder Lane (she was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder) and ghost writer of "Little House on the Prairie"; and the "The God of the Machine," by Isabel Paterson. Two very brilliant women.

Brendan, excellent discourse and conversation!

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Earth (mostly)
Budget deficit on 06/04/2011 15:29:12 MDT Print View

Interesting dual in philosophies but think the law of the land is based on the U.S. Constitution, plus that's what politicians/military/law enforcement swear to uphold. Since this thread started, Medicare has become a bigger factor in future government debt . All other discussions and money-saving budget ideas are drops in the bucket compared to the tsunami of health expenditures coming our way. I can see both sides of the argument.

Should Americans take more responsibility for their own/families health? Yes. If someone is living a healthy lifestyle with healthier stats, they shouldn’t have to subsidize someone who choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle (- Keith Richard type outliers aside)?

However, I am not sure the Tea Party/Republicans can get their own rank-and-file constituents on board, let alone Independents and Democrats. While no one wants to see future generations saddled with government debt, think most elderly worry about future generations saddled with even more insurance debt while the offspring worry about becoming liable for Granny’s operations. Especially when inheritance and estates are taken in account. Thoughts?

In addition to Medicare, the government has taken on overseeing food safety (from Sinclairs' "the Jungle" to the latest E.coli contamination), environment (those burning rivers from the 70's), and now even more health care in response to public outcry. Problem is businesses get frustrated with red tape, while still trying to get more money from consumers or cutting corners on safety, leading to more regulation. Thoughts on ending that cycle?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Budget deficit on 06/04/2011 16:46:38 MDT Print View

Interesting dual in philosophies but think the law of the land is based on the U.S. Constitution, plus that's what politicians/military/law enforcement swear to uphold.

------

The United States Code defines the organic law of the US to include the Northwest Ordinance, the Articles of Confederation, and the Declaration of Independence.

The US Constitution is a short document, the shortest of major government in the world. Actually it is shorter than the Declaration of Independence or the Articles of Confederation. Its purpose was to outline the structure of the US Government's 3 branches, and to lay out the limitations of power of the US Federal Government.


US Constitution

Preamble: States its purpose.

Article 1: Purpose, structure, and limitation of powers for the Legislature.

Article 2: Purpose, structure, and limitation of power for the Executive branch.

Article 3: Purpose, structure, and limitation of power for the Judicial branch.

Article 4: State powers and their limitations.

Article 5: Process for amending the constitution.

Article 6: Federal power supersedes the States (e.g., a State constitution may not be in conflict with the US Constitution).

Article 7: Process for ratification of the US Constitution.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Budget deficit on 06/04/2011 17:13:51 MDT Print View

Greenspan's comments about the need to bring back Clinton era tax rates really caused a bit of heartburn among certain politicians.