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The Absurdity of Calling Obama a Marxist

“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expence, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

The above quote is from notorious hardcore lefty Adam Smith, in his famous socialist tract On the Wealth of Nations, where he proposes a progressive taxation, that the government should protect workers from the predations of their employers, and that a government that serves only the interests of the wealthy will suffer economic collapse.

The point is, I’ve noticed a lot of people flinging the word Marxist at President Obama after his speech today proposing higher taxes on the wealthy. Those people need to be hit over the head with a copy of Das Kapital until some of it sinks in through osmosis.

Obama’s proposals are well within the republican tradition, well within the classical liberal tradition, and well within the free-market tradition. You might question the wisdom of particular aspects of his policies given current economic conditions. Or argue that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to raise taxes now when we can borrow cheaply.

But calling the President a Marxist only exposes the speaker’s ignorance of Marxism, the history of capitalist countries, and President Obama.

[/rant]

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About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. Sam says:

    So right, he is more like Il Duce, a Fascist than a Marxist.

    “Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture. Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission. Levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and “excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.””

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 71

  2. CB says:

    furthermore, the sky is blue and the grass is green. also, too.

    we are so screwed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 8

  3. Rob in CT says:

    The “flinging” of that at Obama goes back to the 2008 campaign.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 7

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    @Sam: You’re confusing Obama with Nixon. It was Nixon who adopted wage and price controls and stringently controlled the economy. His setup was dismantled by Carter.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 14

  5. CB says:

    @Sam:

    do you really, like, believe that stuff? obama is the second coming of mussolini now? thats a new one to me.

    if anything, hes perpetuated (bad) business as usual, which should be condemned. but somehow i doubt that’s the angle youre looking for…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 13

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    @Rob in CT: Yeah, but i was particularly annoyed by it today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  7. David M says:

    @Sam: Thanks for the comedy. It is fitting the first post of the thread is even more absurd than the position Alex was criticizing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 7

  8. James Joyner says:

    The fuller quotation provides useful context:

    The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

    Smith actually opposed taxing income at all.

    Interestingly, David Friedman offers a counter-intuitive reading of even that passage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  9. Rob in CT says:

    I like flinging as a word for this, since it conjures up a mental picture of Chimps flinging poop. We are, after all, Apes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

  10. Alex Knapp says:

    @James Joyner: James, it’s true that Smith opposed income taxes. But what he was proposing was more akin to a wealth tax that I think these days would be harder to enforce. The primary point being, though, that Smith was cool with taxing the rich more than the poor, and actively advocated government protections for the poor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

  11. Vast Variety says:

    But Alex, you can’t effectively scare people by calling the president a reasonable capitalist.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 8

  12. effusing says:

    Thanks for this. Obama is neither a marxist, nor a commie, nor a fascist, nor a socialist. He’s not even much of a democrat! Cap and Trade comes from Dole, his Healthcare plan is modeled after Romney, he acts more like a moderate Republican, remember when there were moderate Republicans? He hired Monsanto execs in to key posts in the FDA, a mortal sin to a progressive or liberal. He loves pollution and tar sands like any self-respecting Republican would. He extended the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy. He uses the term “job creator”, a GOP jingoism. Finally, when he’s on the ropes and on the verge of losing a 2nd term, he starts acting like a Democrat. I guess if people want to vote for a Republican, he finally figured out people will likely vote for one that’s actually registered that way.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Alex Knapp: Right. I honestly don’t see how you’d run a government with truly equal rates of taxation–especially if you’re taxing income. It’s possible to do it on a consumption basis but even there you’d have to have some sort of differentiation of necessities — foodstuffs, medicine, basic clothing — lest you starve the poor. Alternatively, I suppose, you could have equal taxation and introduce progressivity through givebacks, i.e., welfare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  14. Sam says:

    @Alex Knapp:
    Czars. Closing of the Boeing plant by his NLRB. Food police. Green Building codes. pay czar.
    More if you cared to read and think.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 30

  15. Hey Norm says:

    “… if you cared to read and think…”

    Sam inviting people to think like him…(her)…does it get any scarier?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 7

  16. Sam says:

    “Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners.”

    Nominal owners of GM are the UAW. Nominal owners of Boeing are the NLRB dictating what and where they can build their product.

    “Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. ”

    Self explanatory.

    “Fascism embodied corporatism, in which political representation was based on trade and industry rather than on geography. In this, fascism revealed its roots in syndicalism, a form of socialism originating on the left. The government cartelized firms of the same industry, with representatives of labor and management serving on myriad local, regional, and national boards—subject always to the final authority of the dictator’s economic plan.”

    Self explanatory.

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 30

  17. Sam says:

    @Hey Norm:
    Hey Norm, find a brick, shove it up your ass if you can remove your head from it.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 42

  18. Sam says:

    The Obama plan in its fascist time.

    “To maintain high employment and minimize popular discontent, fascist governments also undertook massive public-works projects financed by steep taxes, borrowing, and fiat money creation. While many of these projects were domestic—roads, buildings, stadiums—the largest project of all was militarism, with huge armies and arms production.”

    Of course there will be differences in all types of governing.

    Il Duce was very well liked around the world in his first years, just like Obama was.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 34

  19. James H says:

    Actually, I have seen proof Obama is a Marxist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  20. Sam says:

    Sounds like some Democrat Congresspeople have said this exact same thing.

    “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill. “

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 22

  21. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t think the term is particularly useful. Nearly everybody believes in redistribution of income. Without it it’s pretty difficult to have a modern military or nearly any of the services we expect from a modern state.

    As soon as you advocate something as mild as a graduated income tax, you’re advocating redistribution. A flat tax that exempts the first N dollars of income is redistribution.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  22. Sam says:

    @James Joyner:

    A consumption tax or a national sales tax may be the fairest way to go if ALL OTHER income type taxes are removed. Sort of like Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. It deserves a look.

    With a consumption tax even the underground economy would be included.

    Unless you barter you will be paying the taxes.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 20

  23. ponce says:

    Sam seems to be one of those sad, anti-social wingnut posters who can make 4-5 unanswered posts in a row.

    It is fun to see the apologists for the rich hurl a variety of nonsensical insults at Obama and watch as the polls remain solidly in favor of raising the taxes of the rich.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 11

  24. mantis says:

    Shorter Sam: Marxist, Fascist, Marxist, Fascist! Error. Error. Error. Wingnut-bot overloading, shutting down….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 11

  25. John425 says:

    Just because Adam Smith said something you’d agree with doesn’t mean he is to be followed literally, word-for-word. That is lock-step fundamentalist thinking. Kinda like Bible-thumpers who parse every single word but miss the overall message.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  26. mantis says:

    Just because Adam Smith said something you’d agree with doesn’t mean he is to be followed literally, word-for-word.

    Nobody is saying that. The point is progressive taxation is something even the “father of capitalism” embraced, and as such is hardly some Marxist plot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  27. john personna says:

    Maybe it’s just some of the OTB comment contributors that have me thinking this way … but I think it might actually be a conservative tactic to make claims that they know are wrong, but that they are sure will drive the other side nuts. Is Obama a socialist? Or course not. Does it feel good to say it? Yes indeed, and not least because liberals gnash their teeth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  28. john personna says:

    (Sam’s top post might be an illustration of this dynamic.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  29. samwide says:

    I haven’t heard so many accusations of fascism since the 60s and the heyday of SDS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  30. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t know, Alex; there was at least one pretty cool President that ‘ol Karl supported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Gulliver says:

    Obama can’t be a Marxist; if he were a Marxist then his attempts to nationalize huge chunks of the private sector economy would have been successful. ‘Cause a real Marxist would do it right… unlike previous failed attempts in N. Korea, USSR, and East Germany which obviously did not have the benefit of enlightened Ivy-league principles. Which is, naturally, the only reason they failed. It’s all about implementation, you know, not feasibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  32. Brian Garst says:

    Obama is clearly not a Marxist, but a lot of his positions seem to be based upon similar philosophical assumptions.

    The problem with flinging Smith in this case is that the rich already pay much more than their proportion (the only quintile that pays a higher share of taxes than they earn is at the top), and yet Obama insists on both asserting otherwise and calling for yet more progressivity in what is already the most progressive code in the OECD-24. This is not Marxist, but one has to strain to place it in the “free-market tradition.” I find Obama much closer to the social democratic tradition more common in Europe. That is not the socialism of government ownership of the means of production like Marxism, to be sure, but rather the socialism of a large welfare state and heavy involvement in economic planning.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  33. JKB says:

    Obama’s persistent rhetoric of taking from the rich is his African Strongman routine. Many, if not most of those were Marxists for cover. But they were kleptocrats and as we are seeing Obama’s administration is not opposed to that.

    But he is a socialist. Even by this very refined definition that isn’t confused by the great dissembling the socialists/communists after the 1930s and the deep response against communism in the US. It also points out that while many advocate for socialistic measures they are not necessarily socialists. The real line is in what freedoms will be given up for what measures, with the socialist never even realizing there should be a line.

    In this sense the advocacy of a socialistic act or measure will not necessarily characterize a Socialist. Socialism will mean, not one, but many things socialistic. Thus, for example, protection is socialistic. Yet the protectionist is not, as such, a Socialist. Most protectionists are not Socialists. Many protectionists are, in their general views, as anti-socialistic as men can well be.

    The Socialist, under this definition, would be the man who, in general, distrusts the effects of individual initiative and individual enterprise ; who is easily convinced of the utility of an assumption, by the State, of functions which have hitherto been left to personal choices and personal aims ; and who, in fact, supports and advocates many and large schemes of this character.

    A man of whom all this could be said might, in strict justice, be termed a Socialist. The extreme Socialist is he who would make the State all in all, individual initiative and enterprise disappearing in that engrossing democracy of labor to which he aspires. In his view, the powers and rights of the State represent the sum of all the powers and all the rights of the individuals who compose it ; and government becomes the organ of society in respect to all its interests and all its acts. So much for the Socialist.

    Socialism, under our definition, would be a term properly to be applied (1) to the aggregate of many and large schemes of this nature, actually urged for present or early adoption ; or (2) to a programme contemplated, at whatever distance, for the gradual replacement of private by public activity ; or (3) to an observed movement or tendency, of a highly marked character, in the direction indicated.

    Such would be the significance properly to be attributed to the terms Socialist and Socialism, consistently with the definition proposed to be given to the word socialistic viz., that which causes government functions to transcend the line of the strictly police powers.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 27

  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    Right, right…Obama is no Marxist, he is a Marxist’s puppet.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 24

  35. Ben Wolf says:

    @JKB: Post links to your quotes or don’t bother quoting at all. What you did post illustrates continuing ignorance of the term “socialism”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  36. samwide says:

    @JKB:

    Obama’s persistent rhetoric of taking from the rich is his African Strongman routine.

    Check one: Dopey or Undopey.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    If you don’t think Obama is Marxist or a Marxist’s puppet you just might be a greenneck…..lol….

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 20

  38. john personna says:

    Is it a glitch or are ratings of comments by OTBers gone for good?

    Really you should be all one way or the other. You should have like/dislike on your own articles, and comments, or not at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Absurdity of posting about the absurdity of Obama being a Marxist….

    Alex, you said it. All others are complete idiots. (GA, I am looking at you)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  40. Ben Wolf says:

    @G.A.Phillips: It doesn’t matter whether one “thinks” Obama is a Marxist. He isn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  41. JohnMcC says:

    This sad spectacle of flinging mud and reciting slogans is not new to the 21st century. It has it’s origin in the John Birchers who called Pres Eisenhower a communist. But back in those distant times, there was an actual intellectual conservatism. Alas.

    It was Russell Kirk who made the best rejoinder to the Birchers. “Eisenhower isn’t a communist,” he said. “He’s a golfer.”

    Wouldn’t it be swell if there was a Bill Buckley who could demolish and excommunicate the Fox News, Rush Limbaugh shriekers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  42. Racehorse says:

    @James Joyner: A flat tax rate of, say, 3 % would fall on all wage earners and anyone who has an income. The wealthy would pay more since 3% of $40 million is a lot more that 3 % of $40, 000. No one should be exempt: no loopholes that let millions of people off paying no tax and no deductions except for charity and dependents. Expand the tax base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  43. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    In this sense the advocacy of a socialistic act or measure will not necessarily characterize a Socialist [...]

    This is actually a good example how thin the straws are the supporters of this nonsense have to clutch at.

    The excerpt is from the renowned theoretical work “Lectures delivered before the students of Phillips Exeter academy 1885-1886, by Presidents McCosh, Walker, Bartlett, Robinson, Porter, and Carter, and Rev. Drs. Hale and Brooks” whose impact on political theory has, obviously, resonated through the ages.

    If you ask yourself why JKB had to go back to the 19th century, way before any practical large-scale socialist experiments, to find a definition useful for his purposes the answer is simple: He had to find a a point in time after the term “socialism” was coined in 1827 but before Pigou discovered the idea of externalities in the 1920s which rendered the basic assumptions of this essay moot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  44. JKB says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Really, what’s your definition of Socialism?

    Here’s your reference even though you seem unable to argue the points on merit rather than appeal to authority.
    Socialism by Francis A Walker, Scribners Magazine (1887), p. 109

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  45. David M says:

    @Racehorse: I can’t see how that’ll come close to raising enough revenue.

    This is all so silly, it boggles the mind that people take the idea that Obama is a Marxist/Socialist/Fascist seriously and are willing to make a fool of themselves by admitting it publicly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  46. john personna says:

    The deep absurdity of the “socialist” claim is that US government is still right relative to itself, in recent decades. Alex refers to Nixon. In the past we’ve talked a bout Reagan as a RINO.

    Seriously kids, you can’t make a rational claim that the President is a big scary leftist, when his government is right of those that came before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  47. Steve Verdon says:

    James, it’s true that Smith opposed income taxes. But what he was proposing was more akin to a wealth tax that I think these days would be harder to enforce. The primary point being, though, that Smith was cool with taxing the rich more than the poor, and actively advocated government protections for the poor.

    No, it was a tax on house rents. And it isn’t necessarily a progressive tax, but a flat tax and the reason why it would fall heavier on the rich is that they’d spend more on extravagant housing than the poor would.

    Your entire argument starts from a false premise–i.e. you have nothing here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  48. G.A.Phillips says:

    It doesn’t matter whether one “thinks” Obama is a Marxist. He isn’t.

    lol, greenneck….

    Ozark Hillbilly

    lol ….. Hey Tom…

    Dudes a Marxist puppet collage kid, I have no doubt. I spent a lot of time in Madison and half of my friends are of the same indoctrination, young and old.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  49. David M says:

    @JKB: It seems really odd to use some book that’s over 100 years old to define socialism, especially when you could just link to socialism in wikipedia. Of course the wiki link doesn’t include any incoherent claims about Obama, so I could see why it wasn’t used.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  50. Ben Wolf says:

    @G.A.Phillips: What does your stay in Madison have to do with the subject of the original post? Could you please try to focus?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  51. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steve Verdon: Gotta love the snotty attitude in every single post you make, Steve. Christ man, how could you spew out something so idiotic when Smith wrote:

    A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion

    .

    You didn’t even read the damned original post, did you? Let me be more explicit: More Than In That Proportion [To Their Revenue]. That’s progressive taxation Steve, so I guess you’ve got nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  52. Ben Wolf says:

    @JKB: The definition of socialism is ownership of the means of production by the proletariat. End of story.

    And you really want to accuse me of appeal to authority when your “definition” of socialism is predicated on what Francis Walker said? Do you even know what appeal to authority means?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  53. An Interested Party says:

    Obama’s persistent rhetoric of taking from the rich is his African Strongman routine.

    His “African Strongman” routine? Really? So he’s like Idi Amin? I guess you’ll find out when the secret police come for you and feed you to the crocodiles…by the way, did Bill Clinton also have an “African Strongman” routine, or is that description just reserved for the current President?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  54. Ben Wolf says:

    @An Interested Party: For the radical right it will always come down to race. Always. Obama has dark skin, so he must be just like those people over there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  55. JKB says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Nice 10th grade economics definition. One well refined by the socialists in academia to dissemble socialism, which is far, far worse than the communist confiscation of property.

    So you wanted the cite and wouldn’t even offer a reasoned argument as to why the definition was in error.

    @An Interested Party:

    Well, I was thinking Robert Mugabe or one of the other kleptocrats but if you have evidence that Obama is insane, I’m sure we’d love to read it.

    Well, I don’t remember Clinton calling on his followers to “get in their faces”, hit back harder, etc. But I spent a lot of his administration at sea so I’m not up on all his routines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  56. Stacy says:

    Just noise to muddy the issues for the ignorant.

    “WAKE UP PEOPLE!” We don’t have time for this!
    Read “Common Sense 3.1”

    FIGHT THE CAUSE – NOT THE SYMPTOM

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  57. RW Rogers says:

    Of recent Presidents, only George W. Bush nationalized an entire industry while he was in office. Thousands of privately-employed airport security workers were forced to become federal employees.

    That reminds me that George W. Bush is also the President who campaigned for and signed into law what was then the the largest expansion of government into the private sector in a couple of generations: the Medicare prescription drug benefit program. At $7.5 trillion, the unfunded liabilities of this one program dwarf the predicted Social Security program deficit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  58. An Interested Party says:

    Well, I was thinking Robert Mugabe or one of the other kleptocrats but if you have evidence that Obama is insane, I’m sure we’d love to read it.

    Please, with this statement alone, you show yourself to be unserious…Robert Mugabe? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  59. jan says:

    @JKB:

    So you wanted the cite and wouldn’t even offer a reasoned argument as to why the definition was in error.

    There is a certain futility in citing material, as such sources have to first go through a gauntlet of social progressive brain cells, which tends to beat back any logic or reason these references might offer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  60. Eric Florack says:

    Frank Marshall Davis.
    Jerry Kellman
    Two of Obama’s mentors, and two avowed communists.
    Who Obama surrounds himself with, and whom he calls is mentors makes the question not as absurd as you’d like us to think, Alex. His policies tend to confirm his marxist leanings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

  61. anjin-san says:

    Frank Marshall Davis.
    Jerry Kellman
    Two of Obama’s mentors, and two avowed communists.

    Well, here is a little info on Kellman:

    In 1997, Kellman received his master’s degree in divinity from Loyola University-Chicago. He started working for churches, leading retreats and preaching about changing hearts to transform society.

    http://illinoisissues.uis.edu/archives/2009/03/kellman.html

    That’s what avowed communists do. They get a divinity degree and lead church retreats. Stalin did it. Feliks Dzierzynski did it.

    Kellman is the Adult Faith Formation Director at Mary Seat of Wisdom in Park Ridge IL.

    Here is his bio on the MSW blog:

    http://www.mswparish.org/about-us/189-kellman.html

    I think we can say with some certainty that this man is working hard to subvert the American way and turn this into a communistic nation. He may well be Lenin’s grandson. I want to thank bithead for alerting us to this menace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  62. Alex Knapp says:

    @anjin-san: Anjin-San, don’t you know that Mentees always totally agree with their mentors about everything? Think Plato and Aristotle. Or Freud and Jung.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  63. anjin-san says:

    @ Alex

    I am pretty sure Kenny Bania is bithead’s mentor…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  64. David M says:

    @Eric Florack: You’re probably better of not even trying if that’s your “evidence”. Jerome Corsi is the one who brought up the Frank Marshall Davis connection, so I am sure it means nothing. Also, since when is it possible to for Jerome Corsi to impugn someone’s reputation? That’s taking absurd to a whole new level.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  65. anjin-san says:

    Frank Marshall Davis

    I did a little digging and found no evidence Marshall was “an avowed communist”. He did have some involvement with groups that had communist ties, (they were civil rights groups, its not as if blacks in the 30s had a lot of places to turn), but there we no proof I saw that would show him being a committed, self-declared, or even lukewarm communist. A lot of folks flirted with communism in the 30s. I saw no evidence it stuck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  66. Ben Wolf says:

    The Florack, JKB definition of communism/socialism is: anything they don’t like.

    I have no doubt that if they have difficulty returning a blender to Wal-Mart that thereafter they will consider the management and the cashier to be socialist redistributionists with African strongman mentalities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  67. Xenos says:

    According to the latest Tea Partier on Cavuto, John Boehner is a socialist, too.

    By their terms and definitions, at least 80% of the country is composed of Socialists. They might as well give up the fight, then, and leave the rest of us to enjoy our post-capitalist paradise in peace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  68. Rob in CT says:

    Others have said most of what needed to be said about the various bits of nuttery being flung in this thread, but I just want to highlight this:

    socialism, which is far, far worse than the communist confiscation of property

    Monkeys flinging poo, folks, and seeing how much sticks.

    I also really liked the “African Strongman” line. It’s always good to see the mask slip occasionally. A useful reminder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  69. Steve Verdon says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Yes I did. We aren’t dealing with income here. There isn’t necessarily a one-to-one relationship between income and housing expenditures. Smith is arguing that the rich, in his observation, will likely spend considerably more than the poor so even a flat housing tax will likely end up taxing the rich disproportionately more than the poor with regards to income. Try reading the entire section.

    The inequality with which a tax of this kind might fall upon the owners of different ground-rents, would arise altogether from the accidental inequality of this division. But the inequality with which it might fall upon the inhabitants of different houses would arise, not only from this, but from another cause. The proportion of the expence of house-rent to the whole expense of living, is different in the different degrees of fortune. It is perhaps highest in the highest degree, and it diminishes gradually through the inferior degrees, so as in general to be lowest in the lowest degree. The necessities of life occasion the great expence of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expence of the rich; and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be any thing very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expence, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

    And even if it does work out to being a progressive tax, how the f*ck do we go from, “not very unreasonable,” to “he favored it”? It is only mentioned once, and in regards to one type of taxation and even there the notion that the tax rate itself is progressive is weak at best.

    That is the best you got? Really? Try again. Go back to the Wealth of Nations quote mine.

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  70. Steve Verdon says:

    And just to be clear the notion that Obama is a Marxist is simply risible. But we don’t need dubious quote mining to try and show that. The problem with Alex’s approach is precisely what he highlighted in a later comment.

    Anjin-San, don’t you know that Mentees always totally agree with their mentors about everything? Think Plato and Aristotle. Or Freud and Jung.

    Smith’s Real Bills Doctrine sucks as a basis for monetary theory. Further, we can look towards another free market/libertarian icon, Milton Friedman, who was an advocate of the quantity theory of money which is actually in opposition of the Real Bills Doctrine. The real bills doctrine was discredited in large part by another free market icon, David Ricardo.

    So Alex dredges up one quote an his interpretation is that, “Looky, free market deity Adam Smith liked them, so should all free market types, therefore Obama is not a Marxist.”

    Sorry, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

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  71. Smith starts his discussion of taxation with a series of maxims, the first of which is that tax incidence should be proportional to income–i.e. equivalent to a flat rate income tax. For various reasons he doesn’t actually propose taxing income (the only exception he suggests is a tax on the income of government officials), but he judges other taxes by how well their incidence fits his maxims.

    In considering possible taxes, he notes that one tax, in some ways attractive, would have an incidence more than proportional to income, and says that it is “not very unreasonable” that that should happen. He isn’t saying that that is a desirable feature but that it isn’t sufficiently undesirable to rule out a form of tax that is in other ways desirable.

    It would be nice if people who attributed views to Smith bothered to read him, instead of going on bits snipped out of context by other people. Proportional to income is a maxim of taxation, indeed the first one Smith gives. More than proportional is an undesirable feature, but not all that undesirable.

    I challenge the author of this blog to actually read all of the section of The Wealth of Nations that deals with taxation, and then repeat his claim with a straight face.

    As to Obama, he isn’t a Marxist, he is a Chicago Machine Democrat. So far as his political objectives, assuming he has any beyond getting reelected, the best guess is that he is a Swede–i.e. that he thinks the European welfare states are a model the U.S. should imitate.

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  72. mannning says:

    Whatever you want to label Obama, and there are elements of all the labels in his kit bag of methods and goals, I don’t offhand have a label that fits these obvious Obama mantras:

    “I am the President”, and, “My ends justify my means.”

    I am as much upset by his means as by his ends, which I would call ruthless, beyond the limits of authority for the office he was elected to, very undemocratic, and, in many cases, probably quite illegal (except possibly for the goalpost moving of his kept DOJ lackey.). I will again cite “Crimes Against Liberty” by David Limbaugh for laying out in great detail these sins of the Obama administration, where many of these Obama means and ends are documented.

    Incidentally, one of the closer-to-home Obama/DOJ/OPA means documented in the book* has been to form a secret group inside of the DOJ called the “Blog Squad” to scan the internet to find negatives on Obama and then to post favorable arguments to counter them on many center and rightist blogs. It is our very own “Department of Dirty Tricks!”

    * see Chapter 7, and notes 52-54 to Ch 7.

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  73. mannning says:

    On the rating system.

    I agree with RP that the system should be applied to both posts and comments equally, or not at all. Further, I would suggest that ratings should be confined only to those that comment, that being their identifier, rather than having every glide-through Obama minion snark doing ratings anonymously. I do not think it is fair to the commenters to have their efforts rewarded by suppressing them because of heavy anonymous ratings.

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  74. anjin-san says:

    Obama minion snark doing ratings anonymously

    No doubt the White House is devoting considerable resources to the effort to silence Manning :)

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  75. mannning says:

    What, pray tell do you call someone that advocates using every possible means to raise revenue for government use as far as he can get away with: progressive taxes/payroll taxes/tariffs/VAT/special taxes for groups/corporate taxes/ and any other tax-like mechanism hiding under innocous titles? VAT is still “on the table” as far as Obama is concerned, which would give us all of the bad taxes to be had!

    That is precisely what Holland had, where I had to pay about 40% income tax, and an 18% VAT, plus other lesser taxes, totaling over 60% of my income. Are we headed down this road a few steps at a time, say an increase of 10% per year, year in and year out; you know, the old baloney slice approach? I do indeed vote NO!

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  76. mannning says:

    Seems that angin-san has not read Limbaugh’s indictment of Obama in “Crimes Against Liberty.” Typical snark-artist, deflecting the charges brought to his attention, rather than explaining the charges away constructively. I guess he cannot do that, so snark is all that is left. How very sad!

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  77. mannning says:

    It would take a lot more than your snark, angin-san, to silence me! LOL! The issues are far above your pettiness and willful ignorance.

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  78. WR says:

    @mannning: When Nixon’s men found people saying bad things about him, he had the FBI compile dossiers on them and the IRS audit them.

    When Obama’s people find others saying bad things about them, they refute the bad words — although sometimes they do it pseudonymously.

    Yes, I can see this is a terrifying escalation of government dirty tricks which will inevitably lead to fascism. No wonder you’re so terrified.

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  79. anjin-san says:

    Seems that angin-san has not read Limbaugh’s indictment of Obama

    No, he has not. He will however, be sending you a few rolls of tinfoil for Christmas. You much burn through a lot of it.

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  80. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning:

    Seems that angin-san has not read Limbaugh’s indictment of Obama in “Crimes Against Liberty.” Typical snark-artist, deflecting the charges brought to his attention, rather than explaining the charges away constructively. I guess he cannot do that, so snark is all that is left. How very sad!

    David Limbaugh is not and never has been a disintereted researcher. There is no point in reading any book he writes.

    @David Friedman:

    Smith did support progreseive taxation. Multiple people have quoted his support. All you’ve done is type the equivalent of “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-no-he-didn’t”. Where is the passage in the book where he explicitly rejects progressive taxation? Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

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  81. samwide says:

    @mannning:

    I do not think it is fair to the commenters to have their efforts rewarded by suppressing them because of heavy anonymous ratings.

    Fer crissakes, lighten up. The surest way to get your comment read is for it to get the doofus award. Some suppression that.

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  82. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I haven’t found a “disinterested party” anywhere, BW, and thus read what is there. If it is well-substantiated, then it qualifies, which in the case at hand it does quite nicely, thank you!. Your dismissal is quite typical of arrogant liberals, elite or otherwise. Head in sand if it is not on your list.

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  83. WR says:

    @mannning: So I’m thinking that between books by the Brothers Limbaugh, you squeeze in a little Barbara Ehrenreich and Robert Scheer? Or when you say “well-substantiated,” do you simply mean something that reinforces what you already believe?

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  84. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning:

    Your dismissal is quite typical of arrogant liberals, elite or otherwise. Head in sand if it is not on your list.

    A perfect example of my point: one who hates “liberals” cannot be expected or trusted to write about them objectively, particularly if that person (like David Limbaugh) made his fortune by attacking “liberals”.

    And I don’t doubt you’ve never read a disintereted monograph. I don’t doubt that at all.

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  85. Steve Verdon says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Learn some math dude.

    House-rent tax is 10%

    Poor guy spends 10% of his income on rent. His house-rent tax as a share of his income: 1%.

    Rich guy spends 20% of his income on rent. His house-rent tax as a share of his income: 2%.

    When looked at as a share of his income, this flat tax (on house-rent) is progressive. Of course, it is using a denominator different that what is being used in the numerator (i.e. it is like calculating income tax rates by taking the income taxes paid and dividing them by savings).

    So it is quite possible that what Smith was thinking about was a flat tax on an expenditure that, when looked at relative to income, resulted in a progressive tax. And he found that not very unreasonable. As David Friedman points out, not a very strong endorsement.

    In any event, Alex’s appeal to Adam Smith is still dubious at best. It is really a non sequitur. It is really no different than the following:

    Bob likes apples. And everyone likes Bob, so everyone should like apples. Oh, and Jack is tall.

    What? This is valid argument…how?

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  86. Steve Verdon says:

    By the way, it is interesting that Smith seemed to favor flat taxes as his default position, a tax that tends to not be quite as distorting as a progressive tax.

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  87. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steve Verdon: Ah Steve, you do prove the point. “Maybe” Smith didn’t mean what he wrote? At this point you’re responding just to respond. You aren’t even attempting to address Smith’s writings, you’re just pretending they don’t exist. There’s a ten-ton white elephant in the passage quoted by Alex hitting you with it’s trunk, and you still haven’t realized it’s there.

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  88. Ben Wolf says:

    By the way, it is interesting that Smith seemed to favor flat taxes as his default position, a tax that tends to not be quite as distorting as a progressive tax.

    I can find no way to reconcile your statement with what Adam Smith wrote:

    The principal objection to [window taxes on houses] is their inequality, and inequality of the worst kind, as they must frequently fall much heavier upon the poor than upon the rich. A house of ten pounds rent in a country town may sometimes have more windows than a house of five hundred pounds rent in London; and though the inhabitant of the former is likely to be a much poorer man than that of the latter.”

    Smith is clearly stating here that income must be the primary consideration when crafting tax policy. Libertarians seem to not realize Smith was a vociferous advocate of economic equality. It’s as though they aren’t aware Theory of Moral Sentiments even exists.

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  89. An Interested Party says:

    I am as much upset by his means as by his ends, which I would call ruthless, beyond the limits of authority for the office he was elected to, very undemocratic, and, in many cases, probably quite illegal (except possibly for the goalpost moving of his kept DOJ lackey.). I will again cite “Crimes Against Liberty” by David Limbaugh for laying out in great detail these sins of the Obama administration, where many of these Obama means and ends are documented.

    So what’s stopping Republicans in the House of Representatives from bringing forth articles of impeachment against the President? Hell, they could even use Limbaugh’s book as their primary evidence…well, until they got laughed out of the Capitol…

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  90. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    But, IAP, I will bet you haven’t read it either! Tell the truth now…LOL!

    I am losing count of the shills here for Obama,

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  91. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Oh BW, You can pick the most biased person in the world to write about Obama, either way, but, if he sticks to well-documented facts, and substantiates his statements, who in hell cares how he makes a living? I don,’t. You are judging the author, not having read the book.Quite a
    trick! I will also guess that you judge the Bible that way too!

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  92. An Interested Party says:

    @mannning: Oh please…one is hardly a “shill” for the President for not having read this Limbaugh book…once again, if the President is so guilty of so many crimes, why isn’t the GOP trying to impeach him for those crimes…

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  93. Moosebreath says:

    Steve Verdon,

    “Poor guy spends 10% of his income on rent. His house-rent tax as a share of his income: 1%.

    Rich guy spends 20% of his income on rent. His house-rent tax as a share of his income: 2%.”

    Why on earth should we assume this? Housing typically takes up a far larger share of a poor person’s income than a rich person’s, as it is a necessity, not a luxury.

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  94. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    There you go again! Deliberately mixing up the issues. It isn’t whether you read this book in particular, it is whether you respond to the sum import of the very high volume of collected and documented Obama sins the book refers to, all of which are in the public domain. This simply makes the book a handy guide to the subject of Obama’s sins. I think avoiding understanding and responding to each of these documented issues in their full sum is tatamount to shilling for Obama and his administration.

    @ AIP……… Ref: “Crimes Against Liberty” by David Limbaugh

    You do have a good idea, and the documentation referred to in the book is existing in a lot of sources, including the identified principal player’s/witnesses sworn testimony, which, if called upon to be given, would make quite a case, I believe. It is well above my pay grade, however, to do more than send out my opinion to relevant people, which would be to explore the evidence thoroughly and quiz all of the players extensively, before initiating such a thing as impeachment proceedings.

    I am obviously not qualified to determine legally whether there is sufficient evidence available that cannot be stonewalled, denied or covered up, but a few good objective special investigators could turn up a serious package of “sins”, if even only a tenth of the allegations documented are true. As to the political impact of such a move, I suspect that caution would be the name of the game for the House and the Speaker at this time, but there may come a more appropriate time later on as more sins accumulate!

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  95. mannning says:

    Let me see, how many obfuscation tactics are available to deflect the import of documented sins if one is totally ruthless? Here is a short and incomplete list that can appear at any stage in any order! These tactics hold for office holders and for defenders of the faith! Some have already appeared, even here!

    1. Shoot the messenger! First thing they do!………………………………check!
    2. Shoot the author! Second thing!………………………………………………check!
    3. Call the collected data a “hit piece” by biased people!…………..check!
    4. Call the evidence to be somehow tainted!………………………………TBD
    5. Pick one accusation and find a supposed flaw, which is then used to try to discredit the entire set!…………………………………………………………………………………….TBD
    6. Assure the silence of key potential witnesses………………………..UNKN
    7. Stonewall each accusation, and hide the data………………… UNKN
    8. Blanket denials, lies and destroy the evidence (illegal in itself!).UNKN
    9. Use executive privelege to deny access to data………………………check
    10. Simply deny access and ignore court orders, etc………………….check
    11. Bush did it………………………………………………………………………………check
    12. Bush did it too!……………………………………………………………………….check
    13. Other excuses………………………………………………………………………..TBD
    13. Clinton did it!…………………………………………………………………………..check
    14. X group or X individual did it, not me!……………………………………..check
    15. Mount a counter argument that deflects the thrust…………………check
    16. Assume the authority and challenge questioners………………….check
    17. Publish counter reports from a biased perspective……………….check
    18. Tie up the arguments in definitional problems and legal snares…….check
    19. Tie up the arguments in alternate interpretations of laws………check

    Instances of most of these tactics are documented in Limbaugh’s book.

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  96. Alex Knapp says:

    @mannning: For the sake of discussion, why don’t you provide what you think are the three worst things Obama did, according to Limbaugh, summarize them, and provide the sources? Not all of us have time to read a whole book.

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  97. G.A.Phillips says:

    @G.A.Phillips: What does your stay in Madison have to do with the subject of the original post? Could you please try to focus?

    Reality of liberals,why,how and what they are. Focus? lol…. what do libs know about focus? Relentless misdirected emotion is what you got and is all you got.

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  98. An Interested Party says:

    Relentless misdirected emotion is what you got and is all you got.

    Written by G.A.”LOL” Phillips, of all people…oh, the irony…

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  99. mannning says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    The book should be read in its entirety to get the full picture.

    The damning references are where the story really lies, as Limbaugh is mainly compiling the evidence, not a primary source. He does, of course, knit the thing together with his brand of commentary. I estimate that there is at least a reference per paragraph.

    The problem I have is total lack of trust that the effort and time I would have to make to do it justice myself would be at all worth it, considering the troop of biased people here and my own ignorance. My subject examples: “Obama the Liar has perhaps 15 deep references or more. “Obama the Spendthrift” has perhaps 30 references or more, with specific program references scattered all over. “Obama the Ideologue” is spread out over the whole book with more references than chapters. “Obama the Narcissist” has a chapter, and that might take a higher position, or might not. You are correct that to do it justice is to take the time.

    There seems to be quite a lot of time devoted to such subjects on the part of commenters here, so a bit of reading on their part shouldn’t be all that impacting on them, and far more worthwhile in the original than my poor summaries could convey. Plus, I am not all that familiar with many of the important but obscure named individuals in government and elsewhere, so that might be a huge, time-consuming block for me, or anyone, for that matter.

    My final thought on it is that I believe all that are really interested in this Obama presidency should take the time to read it and to try to counter (or support further) all of the statements–if they can. Meanwhile, as particular subjects come up for which the book and references might be applicable, I will make what comments I feel are appropriate.

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  100. Steve Verdon says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Read what Smith wrote. Back in his day the houses of the rich were often palatial. What is true today was not necessarily true in the past. Same thing in reverse, what was true in the past may not be true in the future.

    Seriously, you and Ben need to go back and look at some pictures and read about houses during that time period. Huge estates, an army of servants, ginormous houses and buildings. It was pretty similar here in the U.S. Guys like Cornelius Vanderbilt had a simply awesome house in terms of its audaciousness. In the U.S. that time period was known as the gilded age.

    So it is not at all clear that Smith was advocating a progressive tax on house rents. And while he does note that the poor often spend more on necessities of life he also writes,

    The proportion of the expence of house-rent to the whole expense of living, is different in the different degrees of fortune. It is perhaps highest in the highest degree, and it diminishes gradually through the inferior degrees, so as in general to be lowest in the lowest degree.

    [...]

    The necessities of life occasion the great expence of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expence of the rich; and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess.

    In other words, Smith is arguing that housing is essentially like a Veblen good. That is, for the wealthy the demand will actually increase with the price.

    Veblen goods are a group of commodities for which people’s preference for buying them increases as a direct function of their price, as greater price confers greater status, instead of decreasing according to the law of demand. A Veblen good is often also a positional good.

    Maybe he was full of crap and needed to do some empirical work vs. just sitting in his study thinking these things over then writing, but the case that he supports progressive taxes based on this quote is the best one can do. And I argue it is dubious at worst, and at best (for arguing in favor of progressive taxes) is luke warm support.

    @Ben Wolf:

    No Ben, the exact meaning of what he wrote is at worst ambiguous and and at best a tepid support for some progressivity in taxes. In general, he favored proportional taxes–i.e. flat taxes. He didn’t talk just about taxes in one place. As Friedman says, read Smith before you make yourself look stupid.

    Smith is clearly stating here that income must be the primary consideration when crafting tax policy.

    Really, seems to be he is talking about how using windows as a proxy for the value of a home is not so good, and can lead to unjust tax burdens. It isn’t clear that Smith is suddenly in favor of progressive taxes. And while income might be the best thing to tax, Smith does not explicitly say it in that passage. He implies, strongly, that it is wrong to tax more heavily a person who has less income than one who has more income based simply on the number of windows in one’s home. Basically, he is making the point that the value of house in different markets are different so a simplistic windows tax is nonsensical and unjust.

    Nice try but back to the quote mines.

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