A Philosopher's Blog

Numbers of Note

Posted in Business, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 24, 2011
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Some years back, my mother got me a subscription to Funny Times. While it is a somewhat left leaning publication that focuses on humor, each issue features “Harper’s Index” which includes various interesting numbers-often juxtaposing them for impact. While this is hardly what one would consider an academic source, the numbers can be easily checked. Naturally, there is always the point of concern that not everyone (even the experts) agree on the exact numbers-but these sorts of disputes can be rationally addressed.

One interesting number is that 71% of the current US debt was accumulated during Republican presidential terms. This is hardly a shock-after all, while Democrats are presented as wasteful spenders and for a bloated government, the modern Republicans have been the ones to really push spending. This is not, of course, to absolve Obama from the debt that has arisen under his administration. However, a fair assessment of his performance requires noting that he started in a deep hole of debt and in the downswing of an economic meltdown. Or, to use another analogy, he became captain of a stricken vessel that was running towards the rocks. Some generous folks might say that keeping the vessel afloat was a notable accomplishment.

While the latest Republicans have been inclined to rage against lifting the debt ceiling, 2/3 of the times the debt ceiling has been lifted have been under a Republican president. While debt is a serious problem, the righteous indignation of the Republicans thus seems a bit strained.

The common wisdom of the Tea Party and many Republicans is that we are taxed enough already and that America is crippled by the cruel lash of the taxman. While I am not a big fan of taxes, this is hardly a time of cruel and unusual tax burdens. In 1961 US corporations paid 40.6% of their profits in taxes. In 2011 the number is 10.5%. Some companies, as has been noted in other posts, pay no taxes. The fact that companies are showing amazing profits and are flush with cash shows that the idea that they are languishing under cruel and excessive taxes is hardly an accurate portrayal of the situation. Now, if the big companies were struggling and short on cash due to high tax rates, then there would be grounds for complaints. However, the myth of the tax monster is one that plays well in many ears.

While the big corporations are generally doing great, the rest of us are not doing so well. 18.2% of Americans have reported that they ran short on money to buy food in 2010. The median wealth of white Americans has dropped 16% since 2005 while Hispanics have seen a decline of 66%  in household wealth since 2005.  One possible reason for this is that the “job creating” corporations have followed the practice of depressing wages. This has yielded 75% of the increase in their profit margins since 2001. In short, the “job creators” have been “creating” wealth by paying people less. That is, of course, an effective way to increase profits. However, it bodes ill for the people who are working ever harder and longer for ever smaller paychecks. As might be imagined, corporations benefit greatly from weakening unions since they tend to work at keeping wages up.

It might be argued that corporations are just engaged in smart business-paying people less means, obviously enough, more profits. Of course, this also has the impact of lowering the money that people spend into the economy-at least in the case of those with lower incomes. As has been pointed out, the wealthy do a great deal of spending-so perhaps they can sustain the economy as the middle class dwindles in size and wealth. Perhaps someday we will see a return to a two class (poor and rich) system. However, this would most likely lead to a revolt on the part of the former middle class.

It could be argued that people can just work hard to make money or create their own businesses. However, making wealth is not a matter of hard work. For example, the Chinese workers who make iPads and iPhones work very hard-but they will not become rich working for Apple. The real money lies in getting other people to work hard for you for as low wages as possible.

Of course, trying to create a business means competing with established businesses who will tend to well connected and who have spent millions on lobbying to ensure their advantages. People can, of course, succeed in this-just as some people can run 100 mile races, play pro ball or kill a tiger in hand to hand combat. However, the odds are not very good-so most folks are stuck working for others with little or no chance of creating a successful business of their own. Some would say that this is fair and hence people who are poor or out of work have only themselves to blame for not being rich.

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58 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on November 24, 2011 at 5:43 am

    People are not struggling because those corporations did well, except to say that they are doing well because of cheap overseas labor and lower regulatory standards abroad. What we need is economic nationalism; in other words tariffs that make trade fair, which would bring jobs back to America and out of the Chinese sweat shops.

    America’s trade deficit is hurting it badly in multiple ways. China artificially lowers the value of the yen to manipulate the system. People get all scared about trade wars, but China needs us more than we need them considering ho much of their economy is based on cheap exports.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Our relationship with China is at least two edged. On the one edge, they provide us with cheaper products so we can live at a higher standard than we could with just domestic labor. On the other edge, they do devalue their currency to a degree that is harming us.

      • magus71 said, on November 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm

        We’re increasing our unemployment, which increases the people’s reliance on the government, which in turn destroys the national fiber and human spirit that Roosevelt spoke of. All to get cheaper plastic toys and sub-par electronics seeded with backdoor malware; and that from a country that is essentially anti-American. The politicians are fools of the highest order.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

          They are only fools from a certain perspective. Many of them are quite clever at achieving their own goals. Of course, this could mean that they are fools in that they are not doing what is best.

    • FRE said, on November 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      Are you aware of the disastrous effect that the Smoot-Hawley trade bill had on our economy?

      Sure, we can reduce imports by having high trade barriers, but in the case of Smoot-Hawley, that resulted in retaliatory trade barriers which greatly reduced exports. During the early part of the FDR administration, Smoot-Hawley was expanded resulting in even stronger retaliatory trade barriers which worsened the depression. So, history teaches us that there is good reason to “get all scared about trade wars.”

      Chinese sweat shops are a real problem which, along with the undervalued yen, we must face. But the solution is less clear than simply raising trade barriers. Perhaps PART of the solution would be an extra high tax on companies which export their production. But, we have to be very careful. We unwisely permitted ourselves to become indebted to China, which now owns a significant percentage of our national debt, and China could use that to strike back at us.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 25, 2011 at 9:54 am

        A trade barrier war with China would probably go badly for both of us. What I think will start to change things is that China has a rising middle class and the citizens are expecting more. That is, China seems to be moving towards the first world. This can result in Chinese workers demanding better pay and better working conditions. This will raise the cost of Chinese goods and will help the US compete better against China. But it will also mean that American consumers will need to pay more-at least until we can get those economic colonies going in Africa to exploit the people there.

        • wtp said, on November 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

          So were the Chinese exploited when we started trading with them and thus raising their standard of living or were they better off when they were being protected from evil capitalist exploitation by the wonderful Chairman Mao? What this word mean, “exploited”?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

            The Communist elites certainly seemed to be exploiting the other Chinese. People can both be better off than before and exploited. For example, suppose that you lose your job because your company decides they can get foreigners to do your job at 10% of your salary. In desperation, you accept a job just like your current job, only it pays you 20% of your old salary and has no benefits at all. You are better off than when you were unemployed, but you would seem to still be exploited by the company-after all, your skill, education and experience would seem to justly warrant better pay. Unless, of course, you think that employers are incapable of exploitation because you have a choice between not working and accepting the job.

            • WTP said, on November 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

              “…your skill, education and experience would seem to justly warrant better pay. Unless, of course, you think that employers are incapable of exploitation because you have a choice between not working and accepting the job.”

              Been there, done that. Found a job at higher pay. Was my previous employer exploiting me? Don’t think so, that’s just what the job is worth. If someone has to take an 80% cut in pay, more than likely they were overpaid in the first place and were exploiting their employer. And no, the choices are not limited to “not working and accepting the job”. If no other employer is paying better wages than that, then that’s what the job is worth. You always have other options. Create your own job. Look around at the world and find something productive to do. It’s not that hard. I know guys who run their own pool cleaning businesses or lawn mowing businesses. They didn’t go looking for such a job, they made the job themselves. There are tons of other solutions too numerous to mention. You fail to understand the opportunities that there are in this world if you just sit down and put your head to finding solutions for yourself. It is sad that someone who teaches philosophy to college students cannot see this. You should be opening young peoples’ minds to the possibilities but I don’t see how that can be with such a narrow minded view of economics.

              Mike you say you are no Socialist, but you make the same arguments that S’s make. Stop with the BS.

        • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 7:28 am

          Oh no!! Protectionism!!!!!

          China has tarrff’s on our goods, so does Japan. Is this disastrous or bad? I’m talking fair trade, which is not what it is now. China is cheating in many areas. Even Obama has said this. The idea that putting tarriffs on goods from China would be “disatrous” is absurd. Our tarrifs are lower than they’ve ever been–something like a 1.5% rate.


          China has a Most Favored Nation status, which means we trust them as much as Britain and Canada to engage in fair trade. Pakistan and China are Asian countries. There, cheating is not only acceptable, it is considered good. It is Sun Tzu writ large. Same thing I saw in Afghanistan; our most accomplished military and political minds were like children in the hands of Afghans who manipluated the system. Sometimes you need people who think like dirt bags and were dirt bags to beat the dirt bags.

          Economics 101: It’s all about incentives, baby. Provide incentives for US business to come back to the US and hire US citizens. Reduce incentives for building factories and hiring foreigners from countries that are openly trying to hurt America and thus its citizens. Of course, the industries in question could just move to another country and not the US, but no one is manipulating their currency as much as China–and at least India is a real ally.

          America’s politicians are hired to protect American citizens first, not to legitimize autocratic regimes churning out badly constructed mother boards and lead painted action figures.

          “So, history teaches us that there is good reason to “get all scared about trade wars.”

          No it doesn’t. It’s funny that Liberals love raising taxes on US citizens but not on the Chinese. When Smoot-Hawley was passed America did not have nearly the problem it does now with outsourcing. And Smoot-Hawley affected imports from all over the world, not just one country–a country that is manipulating the system and harming America. How much money in taxes is the US government losing to outsourcing? Not to mention the human rights issues and environmental regulatory problems in countries like China–issues liberals should be very concerned about. Oh–I forgot–only America should bear any burden or play by any rules. Any other country’s transgressions are merely cultural, which we should respect at all costs.

          We have a massive trade deficit with China. We lose money and jobs because we trade with them. And for what? Do we at least get an ally out of the deal? No, we get a knife in the back. We are not protecting ourselves.

        • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 9:47 am

          If we reduce trade and thus reduce China’s employment, America is bad. If we have businesses overseas we are exploiting the local people. Typical liberal thinking.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm

            Our economy relies heavily on trade, so reducing that would tend to be bad. Relying on low paid foreign workers who work in poor conditions and in ways that can damage the environment also seems bad. I would not want to be treated that way and hence would not want others treated that way. I think God said something about loving others as He loves us-but maybe that was the liberal Satan.

            • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

              “I think God said something about loving others as He loves us-but maybe that was the liberal Satan.”

              Liberals don’t believe in God or Satan, so you shouldn’t invoke the name of either.

              The Chinese devaluing their currency hurts their own people. Only the Chinese government benefits form this; not the US or poor Chinese factory workers.

              “I would not want to be treated that way and hence would not want others treated that way.”

              I’m looking for where I endorsed treating Chinese workers badly or damaging the environment. So now it is the US’s job to employ Chinese workers? Oh, I mean exploit Chinese workers? Wait, this is confusing…..

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

              There must be a very few liberals in America, then. After all, most Americans claim to believe in God-even folks that routinely get called liberals. To use a specific example, are you claiming that Obama is an atheist? Or perhaps you are claiming that he is lying when he says he is a man of faith? Or are there other alternatives?

              I did not claim that you made such claims. My point is just that I am opposed to how the Chinese workers are, in general, treated. While economics is important, I’m with Kant on the view that people are beings of worth and not mere objects to be used. Even if someone makes a lot of money.

            • dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 12:21 am

              “Liberals don’t believe in God or Satan…”
              You jest, of course. Or are you speaking of a specific God that only fundamentalists or conservative Christians can believe in?

              I’ve stated my agnosticism quite clearly here, many times. But among my past responses– perhaps as biomass2, perhaps as freddiek, who knows– I also mentioned that my wife was raised in the church, she’s been an organist in Brethren, Methodist, and Lutheran churches for the last forty+ years. She’s liberal. She believes strongly in the Bible, but the Christianity she lives is a Christianity of compassion and love. She doesn’t harbor bitterness, and she gives of herself to her church, and her community.

              She’s liberal. She does believe in God. Simple as that.

            • magus71 said, on November 29, 2011 at 4:59 am

              Word games.

              Since Mike was able to rhetorical overkill in his Liberal Satan remark, I’m quite justified in my Liberal unbelief remark.

              But statistically speaking, more liberals are atheists (percentage). I really didn’t have to make this point since both of you know this but the word game required you not to mention it.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm

              More liberal are atheists than conservatives? Probably, but the percentage of atheists among liberals is extremely low. There are probably more marginally more liberals who have doctorates than conservatives, but I would not thus conclude that (all/most/lots of) liberals are doctors nor that (most/all/lots of) conservatives are not doctors.

              My Liberal Satan remark was just a humorous aside and not any attempt at an argument.

            • dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 10:06 am

              “’Liberals don’t believe in God or Satan…’
              You jest, of course. Or are you speaking of a specific God that only fundamentalists or conservative Christians can believe in?”

              A recognition and continuation of your little joke. . . or call it a word game, if you wish.

              The last 2 paragraphs of 12:21 were simply offered up for your consideration.

  2. magus71 said, on November 24, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Obama increased the debt to 99.6 % of US GDP: Higher than any president since Roosevelt in 1945. Roosevelt/ Truman than lowered the debt considerable.

    Libs like to point out that Bush Jr was a big spender. And they are right. He doubled Reagan’s debt increase percentages in his second term. But–Bush was the biggest spender on domestic programs of any Republican in history–it was not war that created the debt at least comparing what we spent in historical terms. In other words, besides the Iraq War, it seems Bush did exactly what Democrats would want.

    Mike, You should also address that many left wingers like Paul Krugman say the government isn’t spending enough.

    It also needs to be pointed out that both parties have changed significantly. Kennedy may be the most conservative Dem in history, but is oddly a darling of the Left, which admires expensive haircuts. Truman dropped the bomb and was a devout Christian who established our national day of prayer.

    Roosevelt said:

    “The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for able-bodied but destitute workers. The Federal Government must and shall quit this business of relief.”

    Imagine Obama saying those words. All three of those Dems reduced Debt.And their other policies were sound, too.

    I would vote for Kennedy, Truman, or Roosevelt, but not Barack Obama who has an entirely different view on America’s place in history than do the men I just named. As TJ said, the Dems are not Clinton’s Dems and are significantly more radical.

  3. magus71 said, on November 24, 2011 at 6:03 am

    One more thin; in this article you seem to endorse conservative fiscal values and are critical for Republicans not being conservative enough. Does this mean that Democrats should run on a conservative message?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      I am all about fiscal conservatism. For the current crisis, I’d suggest keeping the tax cuts for the middle class to encourage spending while reducing the tax cuts for the rich gradually (let us say they get 75% of the Bush cuts next year, 50% the year after that, and then 25% in the third year). Tax cuts should be offered in return for creating new domestic jobs and retaining domestic employees (after all, the revenue will be made up by the employed folks paying taxes and buying stuff). For cutting spending, I would suggest a review of entitlements with a revised system for benefits to ensure that people get what they need without money being wasted. I’d also crack down on fraud (currently Medicare loses 10% to fraud-credit card companies only lose 1%, so we can do better). I would also re-assess defense spending and require other countries to contribute more to their own defense.

      • FRE said, on November 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm

        Have we adequately defined Medicare fraud? Obviously it is fraud to bill Medicare for procedures which were never performed, but Is ordering unnecessary tests fraud? It may be that unnecessary tests cost more than unperformed procedures for which Medicare is billed. I know from my own personal experience as a patient that unnecessary tests are sometimes ordered, but I have no way to determine the magnitude of the problem.

        It may be that by reducing fraud and unnecessary testing that the cost of Medicare could be reduced by far more than 10% without adversely affecting patients.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

          A big chunk of the fraud is outright theft. One ploy is to set up a fake pharmacy (basically a front corporation and a street address) and send in fake claims. One way to counter this could be to have police officers get a list of pharmacy addresses on their beat and just drive by and glance at the address to see if their is a pharmacy there or just an empty storefront. Also, the losses are high enough that having people investigate would still save money (plus it could create jobs).

          There are also the unnecessary tests and so on.

          • anon said, on November 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

            But doing that would require cops to do something else besides something to generate revenue for their city/state. 😉

            • magus71 said, on November 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

              I checked businesses almost every night I worked, all night, without being told to do so. It was the way I was trained by veteran cops. Most cops I know are cops because they like helping and they don’t like the idea of sitting behind a desk for 20 years. The pay was substandard even compared to the military.

  4. Numbers of Note - Christian Forums said, on November 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

    […] of Note From A Philosopher's Blog: The common wisdom of the Tea Party and many Republicans is that we are taxed enough already and […]

  5. T. J. Babson said, on November 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    It is not even the debt so much as the Dems don’t even have a plan to balance the budget, and as Magus points a lot of Dems don’t think we are spending enough.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      They have no incentive to do anything, nor do the Republicans. Those in office are focused on two things: 1) getting re-elected and 2) profiting from their position. Some might also have a third agenda item, such as an actual cause.

      The keys to re-election this days are party, money and gerrymandering. These factors mean that the folks in congress are least beholding to the people. While their approval rating is pathetic, most of them will manage to remain in office until they decide to leave.

      Interestingly, politicians have been working hard to create political apathy. For example, the Republicans standard line is that government is bad and ineffective (which they say while trying to get into government). They have been able to use this apathy (such as low voter turnout) to their advantage. We should respond to this by shaking off the blanket of apathy and by waking up to demand better government.

      • magus71 said, on November 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

        “They have no incentive to do anything, nor do the Republicans. Those in office are focused on two things: 1) getting re-elected and 2) profiting from their position.”

        Exactly. i’m writing about that right now. i think a good monarchy is better than a bad democracy.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

          Congress needs a structural reform. I’d suggest the following: 1) term limits, 2) extended terms (so the congress folks can spend more time “working” and less time campaigning), 3) elimination of gerrymandering, 4) limits on campaign spending, 5) limits on donations (even from corporations), 6) elimination of super PACS, and a few more things.

          • anon said, on November 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            Breaking up our two party system would probably help as well. It appears that almost every election ends up being a false dilemma (are you voting Dem or Rep) thanks to how our current system is set. Perhaps proportional representation for just the house could help alleviate the current situation in due time.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm

              Scientific America did an analysis of alternative voting systems some years ago-it was an interesting read and raised some points worth considering. The current two party system is rather well locked into place, but a strong third party could break this two-handed grip on America’s politics. I had some hopes for the Tea Party, but they have been effectively transformed into a Republican organ and have generally been used to support the agenda of certain wealthy interests (look at the Tea Party governors and their policies, such as Rick Scott).

              A robust third party with alternative ideas could be a game changer.

  6. sexandwaffles said, on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree with many of the points you made in this post, as well as in your comments. However, I would like to make a point against your argument that the poor are essentially stuck that way. I understand that getting rich isn’t just about working hard and saving until you get a million dollars. But it is about making smart choices, taking risks, making investments, and generally going against the grain. If you continue to do the daily 9 to 5 grind for 50 years, yeah, you will never get out of that middle or lower class rut. But if you take risks, learn from mistakes, invest your money when the rest of the country is panicking and stuffing theirs under their mattresses–you will inevitably see returns. You might not be the next Bill Gates, but at least you won’t be answering to Lumbergh for the rest of your life.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 25, 2011 at 10:05 am

      True-a combination of smart investing and luck can pay off. The current financial system seems to be an unholy blend of Ponzi schemes, a shell game, and a roulette wheel.

  7. magus71 said, on November 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Only slightly off topic:

    Why I’m not a liberal. Mike, you’ll hate this.

    • magus71 said, on November 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      Why? There is nothing new there and, of course, there are no death dealing arguments against either being a conservative or being a liberal. There are, of course, easy arguments against the straw man positions and the absurd positions that some folks do, in fact, hold.

      • magus71 said, on November 27, 2011 at 6:09 am

        This speaker sums it up better than I’ve ever seen in one speech.

        Of course it’s not death dealing; there are people who think George Bush blew up the Twin Towers. The issue here is: Is what this speaker saying true? This struck me as spot on. I’ve always been fascinated by the liberal mindset, whoch always sides with bad over the good, and defends bad by pointing to the bad in America or Christianity et al. But the accusations are always so unauthentic–even those people know America is a better place than Iran, that Christianity was the foundation the West was built upon. Like he says, they want all things to be equal in their minds so there’s no more reason for fighting.

        • dhammett said, on November 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm


          Here’s some food for thought. It’s for damn sure more nutritious than Dr. Whatsisname’s “life-prolonging” recommendations for alcohol consumption–(though not nearly as tasty I can assure you as the lobster po-boy at the Po-Boy Festival in NOLA last weekend). I didn’t watch your Heritage Foundation offering—Heritage Foundation materials sometimes give me a rash—, so you’re not obligated to watch the following:

          • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

            1) The Wire: Great TV show. Love it.

            2) If you like group life insurance you’re a Socialist. He actually said that. What an idiot. He needs to stick to making good TV and stay out of the business of group life insurance. Really? I have life insurance so I think government ownership of all property or involuntary redistribution of money that people earned is great? Involuntary. That’s important, right? Saying that I agree that team work, or people helping each other is better than every man for himself is Socialism is absurd. In Socialism, a large, distant, and inefficient government gets to choose where every penny goes. How can that work well? “This is not a semantic game I’m playing.” Oh yes it is.

            3) “The idea that there might be something other than raw, unencumbered capitalism by which we might want to measure our society.” Massive strawman. Again–The Wire’s a great TV show.

            4) “The drug war is a war on the poor.” No–drugs themselves are a war on the poor and rich people buy lots of drugs, too. The only corporation a liberal finds any sympathy for is a drug cartel. “there’s nothing good to be said about addiction.” True. I agree.

            5) West Baltimore is a free fire zone? I guess he’s never been to a free fire zone. Everyone dies in a free fire zone. Is America the only country in which these drugs are illegal? No. America is the only country in which liberals care that these drugs are illegal.

            6) It should be noted that these drugs were legal in America at one time. There is a reason they were made illegal and they’ve stayed that way. I’m now caught between letting people destroy themselves and having children whom will be exposed to culturally acceptable destructive substances. It’s easy to stand back and treat this as math: Stop the War on Drugs. But I have children, and I don’t want them living in a country that lowers the expectations and further than they’ve been lowered.

            7) If this guy had more hair, he could be Mike. When he started in with his cynical speech about providing cops and prison guards with jobs via the drug war, and “hunting” the poor for profit I thought he was the good professor.

            8) “Unencumbered Capitalism”? Get real. There’s no such thing in this world. Strawman.

            9) W. F. Buckley was against the War on Drugs.

            10) He really lost me when he started quoting community organizers. I’m at 19:40–I’ll see how much further i can make it.

            11) I agree with his point about neither side (labor or capital) being “demeaned” and maintaining a balance of power between the workers and capitalists. That is a factor in America’s success.

            12) At 21:50 he’s doing better but still building terrific strawmen. No one this side of Ayn Rand has ever said that Capitalism is the only tool for building a just society. If I thought that I would never quote the bible.

            13) I’m in the military; I fully understand the importance of putting team before self.

            14) He states that the top ten poor states in the US are all right to work states. My research shows that 8 of the 10 poorest states are right to work, but all of the top ten poorest states are also the states with the highest percentages of black people with the exception of Arkansas, which is #12 in percentage of black population. The state that I’m from, Maine, has the highest percentage of white people of any state in the US, and also is the poorest state in the union when we consider cost of living.

            15) His comments about NAFTA are good.

            16) He actually makes my protectionist arguments.

            17) “They came for me. They came for newspapers.” I wonder if horse and buggy drivers said the same thing.

            18) ” I make too much money. I work in television.” Yes. Absolutely.

            19) ” I need to pay more taxes.” Than do it. There’s a little line for you to fill out on your tax form where you can give as much money as you want to the government.

            20) Wall Street collapsed the economy. Ummm. No.

            21) “The rich don’t want to pay their share.” No one does.

            22) “We don’t educate kids.” Whose fault is that?

            23) Iraq War was “a complete disaster.” He has no idea what he’s talking about. No one who doesn’t have an agenda would say such a thing. A complete disaster would be America getting kicked out of Iraq by al-Qaeda, and then al-Qaeda moving on to commit several more large scale terrorist acts on US soil. Instead, Iraqis are happy and confident about where their country is headed.

            24) I’m stopping at 46 minutes. He comparison of steel workers with drug dealers ended it for me.

          • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm


            “The show is very good,” he says. “It resonates. It is powerful in its depiction of the codes of the streets, but it is an exaggeration. I get frustrated watching it, because it gives such a powerful appearance of reality, but it always seems to leave something important out. What they have left out are the decent people. Even in the worst drug-infested projects, there are many, many God-fearing, churchgoing, brave people who set themselves against the gangs and the addicts, often with remarkable heroism.”

            And that’s exactly what’s wrong with this speech at Chapel Hill.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

              It is still just a tv show.

            • dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

              “. . .it always seems to leave something important out”
              Apparently the reviewer didn’t watch the whole series. The decent people were there, doing their damnedest to make a progress in the right direction. Remember the kids in Season 5? Some of the cops, some of the teachers, some of the politicians throughout the series (damn few, admittedly). Watch The Corner, or Treme. There are real people there, too.

              I won’t defend Simon’s parsing of the word socialism. What I can’t understand is the fiddle-farting and fear- mongering that goes on around that word. Some people gets their panties in a twist when the federal government requires something like Social Security. Yet when many state governments make decisions requiring every driver to buy auto insurance of a certain type if they wish to continue driving, I don’t hear the word socialism, though an individual is required by government to purchase said insurance with his own money. So, is it that it’s not socialism in a state (as in small letter state, vs. cap. letter State–United States) even though the state is a government entity? Neither do I hear cries of socialism when taxes are collected (the money of the people) to pay for a community water supply. Each little town which creates its own boundaries and its own laws regarding water and sewage connections must be a tiny socialist state? Isn’t the concept of what’s voluntary or involuntary the same whether it’s in Massachusetts or in the country as a whole? I need some clear, concise, clarification on this issue.

              #4 Any figures on how many rich drug abusers are in jail as compared/contrasted with the number of poor drug users incarcerated?

              ‘No one wants to pay their share’ is easy to say, since the whole idea of what one’s “share” is is totally subjective. But the bumper sticker “Your fair share is not in my wallet” is stupid. Buffet, Gates and some others are, arguably, be willing to pay their “fair share”.

              You must have the same reaction to the words “Community Organizers” that I have to the words “Heritage Foundation” 🙂

              “Instead, Iraqis are happy and confident about where their country is headed. ”
              Iraqis? Sunni? Shia? Kurds? Happy? Relatively happier that under Hussein?

              You may be able to solve a problem for me. In your 6:43 opus your point #19 mentions giving more tax to the gummit. We know we can give a few extra bucks for the election fund. We also know we can increase our withholding—but we know that this is not giving more to the gov’t because that extra shows up on the back side of our 1040 to be subtracted from our total tax due. I asked kernunos if he’d please find that line for me. To specify the the form and the line. He wiffled and waffled and never managed an answer. Maybe he just didn’t know. Maybe the forms have changed since then. I’ve got some extra money this year; the government is in pretty bad shape; I’d like to give a bit more in taxes.

              Thanks for taking the time to watch most of Simon’s talk. Since he’s a human, he’s as susceptible to errors in thinking as most of the rest of us. I’m willing to forgive him. He’s interesting, and he’s among the relatively few in the “entertainment industry” who actually do more than simply prepare John Public so he can be more easily lobotomized by corporations and the government.

              I just couldn’t give equal consideration to the Heritage guy. You’ve watched it, obviously. Perhaps you could point me to the parts that tell me how modern liberals think. As one who hates the evil generalizing effects of labeling, I’d love to know what a modern conservative thinks a modern liberal thinks. That should be interesting—in tiny chunks. Kind of like hearing what a modern Christian thinks a modern Atheist thinks. Even more interesting would be to discover what a modern conservative or liberal thinks a modern independent thinks. Or what a modern Christian or Atheist thinks a modern agnostic thinks.

            • magus71 said, on November 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm

              And he is just a TV show writer.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

          That sounds like the old accusation raised against philosophers: “he makes the worse appear the better cause.”

          If you take “liberal” to refer to one who 1) picks evil over good, 2) defends bad, and so so on-then yes, his attacks on either a straw man or a hasty (or biased) generalization are dead on the manufactured mark. Just like if we take conservatives to be 1) anti-science, 2) allied to the rich, 3) uncaring of anyone who is not rich, 4) hypocritical in their espoused faith and so on, then such attacks hit dead on the manufactured mark.

          There is little sport in bashing straw men and little merit in taking the few (typically the worst) to represent the whole.

          • magus71 said, on November 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

            Mike–gimme a break. maybe you didn’t even watch the video.

            I could apply everything that man said to Paul Krugman and Noam Chomsky–ICONS OF THE LEFT–and it would fit perfectly.

            The little, both sides are bad bit is obnoxious and generally occurs when a good point is made.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

              My point is not that both sides are bad. My point is that an attack on a straw man is not an effective attack. While there are leftists and conservatives who are rather bad, they do not represent the vast sweep of people on the left or the right. To treat even an icon as a representative of everyone is a hasty generalization.

              I’m not a big fan of Noam Chomsky, nor does he speak for me.

  8. dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    magus: Too early to expect a response to my tax form question? (12:02 am)

    And the figures on rich v. poor incarcerated for drug possession/sale/use?

    And at least a minor attempt to answer my cry for ” concise, clarification” of the terms “socialism” and “socialist”. Give me at least enough that these terms become more than bumper sticker words and meaningless political bludgeon.

  9. dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Your 11/27 6:09 am: “I’ve always been fascinated by the liberal mindset, whoch always sides with bad over the good, and defends bad by pointing to the bad in America or Christianity et al.”

    My 11/29 12:02am: Referring to the Heritage speaker. I requested you identify a few relevant parts for me. I said that”I’d love to know what a modern conservative [like the Heritage speaker] thinks a modern liberal thinks. That should be interesting—in [very]TINY chunks. . . .Even more interesting would be to discover what a modern conservative or liberal thinks a modern independent thinks.” Is that a reasonable request, or should I assume his view is your view–that of a modern conservative?

    If your views are the same, I’d still be very interested to hear your views of the modern independent.(I’m assuming I’m independent, since I don’t “always side[] with bad over the good, and defend[] bad by pointing to the bad in America or Christianity et al.” In fact, if I’d be lumped in with all other independents, I have strong doubts there would be very few things, short of eating, drinking, shitting and sleeping# that we all ‘always’ do.

    #This is not a comprehensive list. . . 🙂

  10. dhammett said, on November 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    “I have strong doubts there would be very few things. . .”
    should read
    “I have strong doubts there would be very many things. . .”

  11. magus71 said, on December 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm
  12. dhammett said, on December 1, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I don’t mind hearing the occasional “fuck” or “ass-douchery” in appropriate contexts ,and I haven’t counted the number of times those and similar words flowed out of Mr. Corolla’s fetid maw, but early on I reached the conclusion that most of what he was saying was simplistic bullshit. Envy “didn’t used to exist” in the US before the 30 years ago???That would definitely qualify as an “opinion”. Especially when later on the host refers to “global sibling rivalry”—meaning envy in the world, I assume*# and Adam says it (envy in the world— and therefore in the US as well?) is as old as the Bible. Yet it just didn’t used to exist in the US. . .” back in the day”.

    I can tell you from personal observance that 40 years ago all Boy Scouts didn’t personally do all the work to earn their badges( Lazy, irresponsible youth took advantage of the system to get ahead that far back in our history!!). So at least from this angle some of Mr. Corolla’s assumptions are resting on shaky ground. No surprise, the earth quakes, considering all the torrid copulation taking place as he speaks.

    And this sense of entitlement didn’t and doesn’t exist in England among the aristocracy? And we don’t have a class of aristocrats in this country who feel and experience entitlement? Anyone on here who likes infowars.com–and I know you’re out there–can view this:


    And where might the repeal of the estate tax lead eventually?

    “It’s the best system we have”. Agreed. But help me here. Does that mean it can’t be improved?
    Who here believes that if a relative handful of people cheat the system the system should be trashed?We think human weaknesses are an important part of the free market and must be tolerated but also feel that human weaknesses cause Medicare cheating so the system must be trashed rather than improved?

    That being said, there’s no defense for the whole “rights and responsibilities” movement that warped the fabric of education and helped increase the levels of irresponsibility and in some cases just plain evil that arise today in our homes, our schools, our government, our churches.
    And there’s no defense for an over-simplified conclusion that envy is at the heart of all this. Mr. Corolla must know that waaaaaay “back in the day” the 7 deadly sins (I’ll spell them out here: Pride, ENVY, Wrath, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, Gluttony ) were, quite correctly identified as the principal if not the only sources of our suffering in this world. Whether you’re a believer or not, if you make even a minor attempt to use at least 5 of the 7 to explain the condition we’re in these days, you’ll gain a greater insight into today’s problems than Mr, Corolla’s shit-and-semen-laced tirade about envy will ever provide.

    *# I can only make a guess since there’s not much left after all the fucks are subtracted. I’m betting this could have been edited to 4 minutes or less. .

    • magus71 said, on December 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      “Does that mean it can’t be improved?”

      Not the way the Occupy Wall Street thugs want to “improve” things.

      • dhammett said, on December 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

        Are you referring to the “thugs” who got pepper-sprayed at Berkley? BTW: If that’s your thumbs-down I consider it an honor. . .

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

          Students can be dangerous when sitting. Everyone knows that if you want to be a threat, you should sit on the ground and link arms with other people. The next step is, obviously enough, forming Voltron. The cops were just protecting themselves from that.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Corolla can be fairly funny, but the claim that envy didn’t exist here 30 years ago is clearly false. I’m 45 and I remember there being envy back in the day. I do agree that things are different now (that is always the case). Coincidentally, I was asked the other day about the “kids today.” My reply was that people always think that the current generation is bad-we have writings to this effect going at least back to Plato.

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