Debunking The Myth Of The “Radical” Roberts Court


Responding to the many criticisms that have started to come out in advance of the Court’s decision in the PPACA cases, specifically those of Jeffrey Toobin and James Fallows, Jonathan Adler makes this observation:

The Supreme Court has not yet ruled against the individual mandate, and who knows whether it will. Yet this has not stopped commentators from making sweeping charges about the Court. Many commentators, for instance, are charging that the Roberts Court is “activist.” For some, “activist” is just a label for judges that make decisions they don’t like; one man’s “activist” is another’s constitutional paladin. For others, however, the label “activist” is used to describe a court that is particularly “active” in overturning precedent and invalidating laws, and thereby altering the course of the law.

(…)

The problem with these characterizations of the court is that if by “judicial activism” one means a willingness to overturn precedents and invalidate federal laws, the Roberts Court is the least activist court of the post-war period. As a recent NYT analysis showed, thus far the Roberts Court has overturned prior precedents and invalidates federal at a significantly lower rate than its predecessors. Further, many of the Court’s most “activist” decisions, so-defined, have moved the law in a more liberal direction (see, e.g., BoumedieneKennedy v.Louisiana) or were broadly supported First Amendment decisions (e.g. Stevens). This does not mean the Roberts Court’s decisions are correct and there are exceptions to every rule. Nor does the court’s past conduct necessarily predict the future. It does, however, mean that when one looks at the Court’s overall behavior (and not at a single case) it is inaccurate to say that this Court is particularly “activist” in moving the law in a conservative direction by overturning precedents and invalidating federal laws.

The New York Times anaylsis is a 2010 report by Adam Liptak that makes the following observations:

In its first five years, the Roberts court issued conservative decisions 58 percent of the time. And in the term ending a year ago, the rate rose to 65 percent, the highest number in any year since at least 1953.

The courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger, from 1969 to 1986, and William H. Rehnquist, from 1986 to 2005, issued conservative decisions at an almost indistinguishable rate — 55 percent of the time.

(…)

In some ways, the Roberts court is more cautious than earlier ones. The Rehnquist court struck down about 120 laws, or about six a year, according to an analysis by Professor Epstein. The Roberts court, which on average hears fewer cases than the Rehnquist court did, has struck down fewer laws — 15 in its first five years, or three a year.

Adler managed to dig this out of the data accompanying the article:

– The Warren, Burger and Rehnquist Courts overturned precedents at an average rate of 2.7, 2.8 and 2.4 per term, respectively. The Roberts Court, on the other hand, has only overturned an average of 1.6 precedents per term.

– The Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts struck down an average of 7.9, 12.5, and 8.2 laws per term, whereas the Roberts Court has only invalidated an average of 3 laws per term.

As Adler points out, this data comes from 2010 but there has not been any real radical change in the manner in which the Court has ruled during the ensuing two years. So, the idea that the Roberts court is some radical entity that has been overturning precedent and striking down laws willy-nilly simply isn’t true.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    @ Doug Mataconis:

    How did Liptak define “conservative decisions”? Did he make any effort to judge other than by sheer quantity how “judicially active” a given court is? What was his methodology? What sort of controls did he enact? What was his source material?

    There’s no study or analysis here, just assertion after assertion. Furthermore you need to be careful about drawing any conclusions from a single “study” anyway. Have we seen additional studies reaching the same conclusions?

  2. Unfortunately the link to the database in Liptak’s article doesn’t appear to work anymore. I’m going to have to track down a new source.

  3. Commonist says:

    So they are just the most right-wing and loathsome court ever, but they manage to cobble together a legal defense of their decisions. Nice for them.

    Let’s have some gonads fro once: If five judges want to have something repealed or upheld, they can come up with something as long as it isn’t egregious. This is why electing Obama is still critically important if you want an America where “the strong should not harm the weak” – republicans and libertarians are all about barbarism with a legal veneer.

  4. Funny people used to say the same thing about the Warren and Burger Courts. Admit it, you just disagree with the decisions, it’s not like you have actual legal reasons why the Roberts Court has been as “wrong” as you claim them to be.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    Years after Citizens United I still do not understand why right-libertarians insist money is equivalent to speech. Implicit in any support for the decision is the belief that the wealthier an individual or organization is, the more speech they are entitled to. We have seen foreign money from multinationals used in our political process, rapid expansion of rent-seeking and near-total capture of our system of governance by a handful of moneyed interests. Does Johnson & Johnson really have some right to more influence than anyone else?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Implicit in any support for the decision is the belief that the wealthier an individual or organization is, the more speech they are entitled to.

    Of course that’s exactly what they believe. The country should be run by and for the rich. They’d still have property requirements for voting if they could get away with it.

  7. The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Of course that’s exactly what they believe. The country should be run by and for the rich. They’d still have property requirements for voting if they could get away with it.

    I’d like to think they truly want the best for our country and our democracy, but the reality is that the American people hate Citizens United, hate lobbyists and strongly feel the deck is stacked against them when it comes to influence over their elected officials. The more strongly the people feel this way the closer we come to a legitimacy crisis, and I wonder if that isn’t the ultimate goal.

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left.

    How so?

  10. Ben,

    I’m basing that comment on the commentary I hear and see from people

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Lately the Univ. of Loopyville has been especially loopy. I guess we can’t really pretend to be surprised. Hell, if the SCOTUS casts Obamacare to the dustbin of history I presume we’ll witness liberal derangement syndrome on a titanic scale.

    In any event, my issue with the Roberts Court is that Roberts hasn’t been able to bring Kennedy back fully in line, especially on core law enforcement issues as related to states’ rights and federal powers. On those topics Kennedy really has slipped into a de facto state of dementia. It’s unfortunate. Reagan really messed up there. He should’ve tapped Ken Starr, Harvie Wilkinson, Edith Jones or Danny Boggs. Frank Easterbrook also was available. Alex Kozinski. Several others. Bad mistake.

  12. anjin-san says:

    The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law

    Here in the real world, those with sufficient wealth can generally ignore the law with impunity. The rest of us, not so much.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    The Supreme Court established Citizens United as the new precedent from which the validity of any new proposed campaign finance regulations will be judged and determined to be constitutional. The recent Montana decision is evidence that the Court, in adopting Citizens United thereby sweeping away many state regulations restricting campaign contributions, is rightfully viewed as activist in applying its majority conservative ideology.

    I realize that that use of activist doesn’t square with this:

    The problem with these characterizations of the court is that if by “judicial activism” one means a willingness to overturn precedents and invalidate federal laws, the Roberts Court is the least activist court of the post-war period

    The problem here is that “activist” (because of years of conservative complaint that liberal justices have been “activist” ) has become a pejorative term. People recoil from the term.

    Presidential elections have consequences, and as the GOP has won 7 of the past 11 elections, it should come as no surprise that 4 of the 5 conservative justices are now actively moving the Court in a very conservative direction.

  14. anjin-san says:

    strongly feel the deck is stacked against them when it comes to influence over their elected officials

    Come on. A cup of coffee with your senator will only set you back about 20K. Quit your bitching.

    I was at a fundraiser for my congressional representative not too long ago. Now I am a pretty presentable guy, but when we were introduced, he seemed to know at a glance that he would never get a check from me larger than $500. I think I had his attention for all of 30 seconds. He was not the first national political figure I have had that experience with.

    Notable exceptions are Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, who were generous with their time and did not look over my shoulder for a larger checkbook while we were talking.

  15. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    “The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left. ”

    Well, the reason we on the left are so “obsessed” with the issue of wealth influencing speech is because of the fact that it does. How else do you explain Citizens United and free speakers like Sheldon Adelson?

  16. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left

    Well, no shit, Sherlock. I wonder why that is.

  17. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I’m basing that comment on the commentary I hear and see from people

    Which people? I thought of just typing LOL, but you might not have understood why what you wrote above is so laughable.

  18. Bennett says:

    @michael reynolds: If I ever need to rage, I just go read comments over at Hot Air. The majority opinion amongst that crowd is a)only property owners should be able to vote, and b)only those paying net taxes be allowed to vote. I have seen large swaths call for yearly citizenship tests, literacy tests and even poll taxes. It’s freaking scary.

  19. @bk:

    “Alex, I’ll take Envy for $2,,000”

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left.

    I, for one, was pleased that Sheldon Adelson contributed $21 million to Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

  21. Bennett says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Way to project Doug. Sorry, but most of us lefties find all the money being thrown around disgusting even when it goes to our candidates. We play the cards we are dealt, yes, but only conservatives like the game.

  22. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    If I ever need to rage, I just go read comments over at Hot Air.

    Yes, and what makes it worse is that unless you are already registered at Hot Air, you cannot comment, because registration is closed. So I’ve stopped reading comments there, knowing they’re going to infuriate and/or terrify me, and I won’t even have the relief of being able to confront in writing.

  23. paladin says:

    Bennett, were you really “disgusted” when Obama opted out of federal campaign funds in order to raise (and spend) three-quarters-of-a-BILLION dollars for his ’08 win?

    Did you vote for him anyway?

    Not THAT disgusted, eh? lol

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: The problem is that if it gets to a point where the average citizen feels he/she has no possibility of influencing the rules that affect him/her, you end up with a rather messy situation, historically.

    See, e.g. the Russian Revolution and the French Revolution. I bet in both cases the nobles were shocked, just totally shocked that the peasants thought they could protest.

  25. Bennett says:

    @paladin:Uh yeah, it’s pretty disturbing on several levels, what’s your point? I think the designated hitter is stupid, but if I’m an AL manager I am going to use it.

  26. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “Alex, I’ll take Envy for $2,,000″

    Doug, you have got to be kidding. You think that the left’s anger at a Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and wealthy individuals to, quite literally, buy elections, is because the left is envious? Envious of WHAT? That Sheldon Adelson’s vote counts more than mine because the law permits him to donate limitless amounts to the candidate of his choice?

    Are you really *that* shallow in your thinking?

  27. Kathy,

    I think the left’s obsession with “the rich” is based completely in the politics of envy and resentment. It is really rather obvious

  28. al-Ameda says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Doug, you have got to be kidding. You think that the left’s anger at a Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and wealthy individuals to, quite literally, buy elections, is because the left is envious? Envious of WHAT? That Sheldon Adelson’s vote counts more than mine because the law permits him to donate limitless amounts to the candidate of his choice?

    I think the problem is that the Left actually believes that under the Constitution corporations are not “people’ and the Right believes that corporations are ‘people.’ Envy is not part of this at all.

  29. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: What “left” are you talking about? The minuscule fringe? Because if you’re really suggesting that most Democrats are anti-rich, you are nuts.

    You really think the Montana Supreme Court hates the rich?

    Rational people can despise the role of money in politics without being anti-rich whether due to envy or otherwise. If you can’t recognize that….

  30. I am largely referring to the left’s commentariat, along with the now defunct Occupy movement they once obsequiesly worshiped.

  31. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think the left’s obsession with “the rich” is based completely in the politics of envy and resentment. It is really rather obvious

    What do you think the right’s contempt for the working poor and for people who are unemployed, homeless, foreclosed or evicted, and/or sick without health insurance is based in? What do you think is the basis for the right’s obsession with destroying collective bargaining, with cutting funding for food stamps, for affordable housing, for unemployment benefits, for disability benefits, for Medicare, for Medicaid, for Social Security, for Social Security Disability? Can you tell me what you think the right’s obsession with eliminating programs and services that help low-income women and their children is based in? What do you think the right’s determination to deny women access to abortion, contraception, prenatal care, breast cancer screening, and Pap smears is based in? What is the right’s hatred for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, and for the right of same-sex couples to marry just like any other two consenting adults who love each other, based in?

    What do you think the right’s obsessive hatred and contempt for anyone who is fragile, vulnerable, without friends or family to turn to, lonely, mentally ill, or just broken inside, is based in? What is the basis for that unwavering hatred for anyone without power, money, connections, or resources?

    I ask, because whatever the right’s basis for this revulsion toward anyone who needs help but can’t buy it, *that’s* what the left is obsessed with — not the amount of money a right-winger has in his or her bank account(s).

  32. Kathy,

    You just proved my point. Thank you.

  33. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “I think the left’s obsession with “the rich” is based completely in the politics of envy and resentment. It is really rather obvious”

    And women who are raped only get upset when the guy doesn’t call them afterward. After all, what other reason could she possibly have for being upset?

    And as for the analysis of the Roberts Court’s decisions, anything that simply looks at numbers and not the nature and extent of those decisions is useless. Citizens United, for example, fundamentally invalidated over a century of accepted practice and thinking on campaign finance. It has radically altered the nature of political campaigning and did so for no practical reason whatsoever, disregarding the realities of electioneering in favor or ideological purity or partisan advantage. I’d say that one decision has to weigh a lot more than dozens of others that carried not 1/100th of the significance.

    Mike

  34. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “You just proved my point.”

    And I think you’ve just proved why communism held so much appeal to so many, even as its failures became more and more undeniable. If the alternative is smug bastards like you, even totalitarianism starts to look that not that bad an option.

    Mike

  35. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I am largely referring to the left’s commentariat, along with the now defunct Occupy movement they once obsequiesly worshiped.

    In other words, you are referring to people whose political, personal, and social values lead them to believe that income inequality is bad, dangerous, immoral, and economically both unsound and unsustainable.

    Those people and their political, personal, and social values are very much still around, Doug. They are not “defunct.”

  36. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Name names. Who do you consider as an exemplar of the “left’s commentariat”? Do you think Josh Marshall hates the rich? Ezra Klien? Kevin Drum? Fallows? Alter? Anyone?

  37. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Kathy,

    You just proved my point. Thank you.

    I think you may have finally jumped the shark there. (Although I haven’t been reading this blog all that long; perhaps that quote is just one of many instances).

  38. Gustopher says:

    In Knox v. SEIU, the Roberts Court decided things that were not even argued for. If that’s not judicial activism, I’m not sure what is.

  39. There is nothing “radical” about the Knox v. SEIU case

  40. @SKI:

    Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Ed Schultz, Melissa Harris Perry, David Corn

    Need I go on?

  41. @MBunge:

    Yea because tyranny is so much more appealing to people like you than pesky things like individual liberty, isn’t it?

  42. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You just proved my point. Thank you.

    Well, it goes both ways, though. You just proved with this response that you really don’t know the difference between envy and moral outrage. Or, put another way, that you think outrage at the right’s callousness toward those human beings whose condition most calls for compassion, is equivalent to envy.

    Note that throughout my previous reply to you, I referred to “the right” — NOT to “the rich.” Either you believe “right-wing” is synonymous with “rich,” or you believe that contempt for people who lack money, power, or position is one of the privileges or perks that come with being rich — in the same way that, say, being able to pay the full purchase price of a house without having to take out a mortgage, or being able to pay the entire cost of sending a child to Harvard, or being able to buy a second or third home, are privileges or perks that come with being rich. If you believe that, then it makes sense you would equate advocacy for people who are poor, sick, hungry, jobless, et al., with being envious of the rich.

  43. Kathy,

    The fact that you even think the fact that someone becomes successful enough that they become very rich is a “moral” issue betrays what I must, with all due respect, characterize as a pretty screwed up moral code.

  44. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @bk:

    I think you may have finally jumped the shark there. (Although I haven’t been reading this blog all that long; perhaps that quote is just one of many instances).

    No, I’ve been reading this blog for a long time, and I think Doug *has* jumped the shark. He has expressed outrageous, uninformed beliefs before, but none quite like this.

  45. Kathy,

    “Uninformed” = anyone who disagrees with you, it seems.

  46. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You are nuts. You really think everyone on that list hates the rich? Total delusional.

    Here is Josh’s twitter feed . Can you point to anything that in any way indicates hatred for the rich?

  47. SKI,

    I am merely drawing conclusions from what I see people say, and the policies they advocate. Certainly, the left-leaning commentators here have a quite obvious bias against people of wealth

  48. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    The fact that you even think the fact that someone becomes successful enough that they become very rich is a “moral” issue betrays what I must, with all due respect, characterize as a pretty screwed up moral code.

    I don’t. That was my entire point, implied in my initial response to your “envy” comment, and directly stated in my second. I know you can read, so I don’t know where this comprehension problem is coming from.

  49. Kathy,

    Again, you and those who have agreed with you are the ones who are rallying around the “wealth” issue. Personally, I am in favor of people being able to get as rich as they can.

  50. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “Uninformed” = anyone who disagrees with you, it seems.

    No, “uninformed” means “doesn’t know basic facts or information” about what is under discussion.

  51. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Shorter Doug: I have no evidence, just my own biases. It makes me happier to pretend/believe that people that disagree with me are irrational.

    Seriously Doug, you are claiming that disagreeing with you on policy must be motivated by hatred (i.e., irrational) as opposed to simple disagreement on what would work best. That is incredibly weak. .

  52. Kathy,

    Just because I disagree with you about sucking “the rich” dry does not mean I am “uninformed.”

  53. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Again, you and those who have agreed with you are the ones who are rallying around the “wealth” issue.

    No, I and those who agree with me are rallying around the concepts of selfishness versus compassion. I have nothing at all against being rich. There’s nothing at all wrong with being rich, as long as you became so through honest means. What’s wrong is that a small number of people should be extremely, exceedingly wealthy, while others have nothing.

    Personally, I am in favor of people being able to get as rich as they can.

    And personally, I am in favor of people — all people — having what is minimally necessary to lead dignified lives under dignified conditions. Your statement that you are ” in favor of people being able to get as rich as they can” is meaningless in any practical sense, because you know everyone is *not* going to be able to get rich, and you also know that “not being able to get rich but still being able to live in decent, humane conditions” is NOT the only alternative to “being able to get rich.” By saying that you want everyone to be able to get as rich as they can, but refusing to acknowledge that for many people “not being rich” is not the problem and is completely irrelevant to what the problem actually is, you are actually, in fact (even if not in intent), saying that it’s acceptable for some people to have tens of billions of dollars and other people to live in boxes and under bridges. It’s NOT acceptable. In a truly free and democratic society, the measure of freedom and of democracy and of a just society is not that everyone can get rich, but that no one has to live in a box or under a bridge.

  54. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Certainly, the left-leaning commentators here have a quite obvious bias against people of wealth

    Can we swear here? Good. That statement is full of shit.

  55. @Ben Wolf: So what is the difference, Constitutionally speaking, between a union and a corporation? Since both are groups of people peaceably assembled, why should the latter be regulated to the political sidelines, why the former is held in esteem?

  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left.

    Really? So money is supposed to be speech (which is, frankly, ridiculous enough on face), but there is no discernible public interest in limiting the ability of any one group (or collection of groups) to exert a grossly disproportionate effect on elections?

    I mean hell, why even bother with the pretense of holding a fair election to begin with? Just hinge the decision on whatever the highest bidder wants.

  57. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TC@LeatherPenguin:

    So what is the difference, Constitutionally speaking, between a union and a corporation?

    There is no difference, hence the ruling in Citizens. The court decided that it doesn’t want to overturn Buckley (which is a cowardly position to take with regard to a seriously flawed, IMO, ruling), so it went instead with the alternative of removing the last few remaining barriers to, all out, free for all, for sale elections.

  58. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Just because I disagree with you about sucking “the rich” dry does not mean I am “uninformed.”

    Well, yes, it does, actually, mean that — because the rich are not being “sucked dry” and no one — literally, no one, not one writer, politician, legislator, blogger, anyone — has ever, EVER said or even suggested that the rich should be “sucked dry.” You are uninformed because your statement is incorrect in an absolute sense, and you are also uninformed because your statement is based on a belief that asking rich people to pay higher taxes is equivalent to “sucking the rich dry.” It isn’t. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact. No rich person in this country will be “sucked dry” by having to pay higher taxes.

    But what you say here is not just uninformed, it is morally offensive, because you are telling me you oppose “sucking the rich dry” (which is not happening); but by implication you do NOT oppose “sucking the poor, the working poor, and the middle class dry.” That may not be what you affirmatively think should happen, but it is what you imply when you say you oppose “sucking the rich dry,” when the rich are not being “sucked dry,” whereas Republicans are proposing to cut or eliminate programs and services that help (MINIMALLY help) Americans who can’t afford food, can’t find work, are disabled and can’t work, have lost or are losing their homes and everything they own, so that they have to live on the street or in their cars, can’t pay for health care so don’t get health care even when they desperately need health care, don’t have the financial resources to feed and house and properly care for their own children — because those Republicans don’t want to “suck the rich dry.”

    Your fundamental premise, as well as your facts, are either flawed, inaccurate, or completely incorrect.

  59. @Kathy Kattenburg:

    No, you are just not comprehending the simple fact that I reject the premise of your argument

  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yea because tyranny is so much more appealing to people like you than pesky things like individual liberty, isn’t it?

    I have to ask, does that individual liberty extend to the decision to terminate a pregnancy, to use drugs in a manner that doesn’t harm others, to engage in homosexual sex, public nudity, etc?

    I ask because every time that I hear “individual liberty” thrown around, it always seem to translate to “the liberty for others to to make choices which I agree with.”

    So, you know, I just had to ask ….

  61. @HarvardLaw92:

    Funny you should ask. I support abortion rights (at least up to a certain point), drug legalization, gay marriage, and oppose any laws against victimless crimes.

    I also support free markets, free trade,and the right to contract without the interference of the state.

  62. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Certainly, the left-leaning commentators here have a quite obvious bias against people of wealth.

    No, they don’t. They have a bias against the politics of selfishness. Being rich and being selfish are not synonymous.

  63. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    No, you are just not comprehending the simple fact that I reject the premise of your argument

    You don’t reject the premise of my argument. That suggests you have correctly articulated the premise of my argument. And you have not.

  64. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “Just because I disagree with you about sucking “the rich” dry does not mean I am “uninformed.””

    And just because Kathy, among others, disagrees with you on the desirability of poor people dying in the streets doesn’t mean that she is consumed with envy.

  65. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I also support free markets, free trade,and the right to contract without the interference of the state.

    There’s no such thing as the “free market.” There is no “free market.” It’s a myth. Corporations or businesses are allowed to move their businesses to Mexico, but Mexicans are not allowed to move their families to the United States.

  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Funny you should ask. I support abortion rights (at least up to a certain point), drug legalization, gay marriage, and oppose any laws against victimless crimes.

    But what certain point? You are proposing to constrain the liberty of another regarding choices concerning their own bodies. I can’t imagine any venue more sacrosanct to the concept of individual liberty than what one proposes to do to one’s own self.

    That said, we’re in agreement. The role of government is not to protect us from ourselves.

    I also support free markets, free trade,and the right to contract without the interference of the state.

    As do I, but we have to acknowledge that truly free markets will lead to the escalating displacement of domestic labor. The cost of labor differential inherent in offshore production virtually assures that, so is escalating sweat labor unemployment a worthwhile price to pay for the academic premise of free markets?

    Free trade doesn’t exist. It never has and it arguably never will. Every economy of any size in the world, including us, protects its domestic markets.

    With regard to contracts, I’ll agree, with one caveat: Don’t presume to contract without the involvement of the state unless you propose to remedy contractual abrogations without the involvement of the same. It’s somewhat disingenuous to suggest that “I’m allowed to make whatever sort of mess I like with regard to my contractual obligations, but I still expect the state to adjudicate my problems when I run into a snag in that regard.”

  67. Scott O. says:

    Doug, you disagree with her argument that the rich should be sucked dry, an argument she didn’t make. And you also reject the premise of her argument, that the rich should be sucked dry, which she never stated. Does that about sum it up?

  68. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    And just because Kathy, among others, disagrees with you on the desirability of poor people dying in the streets doesn’t mean that she is consumed with envy.

    Far from being consumed with envy, I’m consumed with gratitude and relief that I don’t have to live on the street or in a homeless shelter, as not so long ago I with good reason feared I might have to. I’m consumed with gratitude that the State of New Jersey approved my application for Social Security Disability so I can live in a comfortable apartment in a safe building in a safe neighborhood and, although I can’t spend money on theater or the movies or restaurants or travel, I will *never, never, never* again have to lie awake at night crying in terror that I’m going to be living on the sidewalk.

    I am consumed with gratitude for the GOVERNMENT PROGRAM that makes it possible for me to keep living in decent circumstances even though I cannot work for a living anymore.

    And I get horribly depressed and angry all the time about all the suffering that people who are not as lucky as I am have to go through because people like Doug do not want Americans who have more wealth than they can ever spend or know what to do with in a lifetime to spend one damn penny more in taxes.

  69. KariQ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The best excuse I can come up with for you is that something completely unrelated really pissed you off today so you decided to work out your aggression by trolling your own blog.

    Doug, honestly, you are sounding a lot like a RedState or Free Republic commenter, which is unworthy of anyone who wants their views to be taken seriously. Approach the topic with the slightest bit of intellectual honesty, and you can easily come up with many reasons why a person could be disturbed by the Citizen’s United ruling that have not the slightest thing to do with envy. That doesn’t mean you need to agree with those reasons, but you owe it to yourself to admit they exist.

  70. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    But we have to be fair as well, Kathy. What comprises “enough”? Who gets to determine, for me I might add, when I have accumulated enough wealth, beyond which point I shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate any more and accordingly beyond which my excess must be seized?

    Frankly, we as a society tend to have a skewed set of expectations with regard to what standard of living we believe ourselves to be entitled to, and seem to have no shortage of suggestions as to how that expected standard can be preserved at the expense of another.

    If we’re honest with ourselves, those expectations (which we’ll call the “American Dream”) are rooted in a period of aberrant prosperity from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s, in which we were the only industrialized economy left standing in the wake of WW2, had a captive global market for our goods and services and could sell everything we could possibly produce.

    That was always going to end when the rest of the world rebuilt, and it did, resoundingly. Our trade balance swung negative, and has remained there. Our response? Instead of adjusting our expectations accordingly and recognizing that the party was coming to an end, we began to borrow ourselves into penury, at both a governmental and personal level, in order to facilitate the fantasy that post-industrialism and an expanding global market wouldn’t affect us.

    I’m all for doing what is prudent from the sake of a basic necessities standpoint, but we are going to have to face, sooner or later, that the status quo goes FAR beyond that point, we can’t afford it any longer and difficult choices are going to have to be made.

    Whether we make those proactively or reactively, once the tower has crumbled around us, is the choice that is before us. I suspect it will be the latter option. We tend not to like facing uncomfortable realities.

  71. Bennett says:

    Christ Doug, get a grip man. Yes, there are yahoos who think anyone who is rich is automatically immoral. It’s wrong, but I don’t see any of those supposed “left wing commentariat” types making that charge, and certainly no body on this blog (even Kathy, who has her heart in the right place, just isn’t articulating the argument well).

    What we do assert is that if free speech means undisclosed, unlimited donations then the rich obviously have more free speech than those of us of less economic means. And we think that is wrong. The law disagrees. It’s that simple.

  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So you’ve joined the ranks of the dittohead “politics of envy/class warfare” crowd? Good to know!

  73. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Who gets to determine, for me I might add, when I have accumulated enough wealth, beyond which point I shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate any more and accordingly beyond which my excess must be seized?


    Frankly, we as a society tend to have a skewed set of expectations with regard to what standard of living we believe ourselves to be entitled to, and seem to have no shortage of suggestions as to how that expected standard can be preserved at the expense of another.

    Jumping Jesus on a polo stick, do you know how incredibly twisted the above is? After suggesting to me that you and others in your income bracket are so terribly put upon because you are supposedly being told you can’t “accumulate more wealth,” and can’t be as much richer and richer and richer as you want, without being taxed one penny more, you are actually saying to me that our society has a “skewed set of expectations” about “what standard of living we believe ourselves to be entitled to,” and “how that expected standard can be preserved at the expense of another”? Am I actually to believe that your nose is the same length it was before you wrote that? Are there any mirrors in your home? What standard of living do YOU expect and assume to be your right to have at the expense of a single mother trying to raise her child or children on a minimum wage job, or no job at all? And why should SHE have to pay more, and more, and more, and more, and more, to finance your life style?


    Instead of adjusting our expectations accordingly and recognizing that the party was coming to an end, we began to borrow ourselves into penury, at both a governmental and personal level

    Well, but, who was doing the partying, HarvardLaw92? You do realize it wasn’t people on welfare and Medicaid who were spending all that money, don’t you? It’s not the poor or the near-poor who racked up that deficit. There were two huge tax cuts for the rich and two huge wars that together cost trillions of dollars. There was a Medicare boondoggle that did nothing at all to help lower costs for the elderly, but did put a lot more money in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. None of these — not the tax cuts, not the two wars, not the Medicare Part D boondoggle — was paid for. That’s not people struggling to make ends meet on four jobs that did that, HarvardLaw92.

    Who gets to determine when the most economically vulnerable or distressed people in our country are suffering enough that they shouldn’t be asked to suffer anymore? No one is suggesting some kind of a ceiling to wealth beyond which no one is allowed to go above. You can make as much as you want to make, but when you make more, you should pay more in taxes. If you’re asking what should be the limit to the highest tax rate, my answer is, Not 100%. Right now the tax marginal tax rate tops at 35%, no matter how much you make — whether you make $20 million or $20 billion. That’s not right and it’s not acceptable. No one is proposing to take all your money away, HarvardLaw92.

    I’m all for doing what is prudent from the sake of a basic necessities standpoint, but we are going to have to face, sooner or later, that the status quo goes FAR beyond that point, we can’t afford it any longer and difficult choices are going to have to be made.

    If the status quo goes FAR beyond what is “prudent” (whatever that means) from the “basic necessities standpoint,” then how come Americans still die of preventable diseases because they can’t afford medical care, or get it too late? How come millions of Americans are still homeless, because of poverty, unemployment, and because they somehow fell through the cracks? How come so many Americans live in crumbling, drug- and crime-ridden neighborhoods, sharing their living space with rats and roaches? How come food pantries cannot keep up with the demand? (And I know because I use one.) I mean, how can you possible say the status quo goes FAR beyond basic necessities when all of the above is still all too true?

    And I cannot even adequately explain how angry your “difficult choices are going to have to be made” makes me. Do you know how often I’ve heard that line of crap in political speeches and from the pens of well-fed, handsomely paid media pundts, NONE of whom are the ones who actually are being asked to make those difficult choices? It is, not to mince words, just obscene.

    We tend not to like facing uncomfortable realities.

    No, we don’t, do we?

    I know this reply is very angry, but you cannot write what you wrote and not expect this level of anger.

  74. reid says:

    @KariQ: Exactly. Doug’s tendency to post curt, defensive, slanted, and snotty responses has been turned up to 11 on this post. He should learn to not respond when he’s in that kind of mood because the regular readers are only going to take so much of that nonsense.

  75. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    After suggesting to me that you and others in your income bracket are so terribly put upon because you are supposedly being told you can’t “accumulate more wealth,” and can’t be as much richer and richer and richer as you want, without being taxed one penny more, you are actually saying to me that our society has a “skewed set of expectations” about “what standard of living we believe ourselves to be entitled to,” and “how that expected standard can be preserved at the expense of another”?

    Nice lady – between federal income taxes, state and local income taxes, capital gains taxes, taxes on interest income and property taxes (we’ll leave out sales taxes, use taxes, etc. to keep it simple), I pay, actually pay, 43.52% of gross in taxes. Almost 45% of my income is lost to taxation.

    What do you consider to be a fair percentage for me to give up so that those with less can have more? 50%? 75%? 100%? By all means enlighten me on what the Kathy approved level of taxation that I should be paying might be.

    What standard of living do YOU expect and assume to be your right to have

    The one that I provide for myself, much like any other person.


    at the expense of a single mother trying to raise her child or children on a minimum wage job, or no job at all? And why should SHE have to pay more, and more, and more, and more, and more, to finance your life style?

    Now, this is rich. Please enlighten me as to:

    1) How her problems are legitimately my responsibility to solve for her

    2) How in the world she is possibly financing my lifestyle

    3) What more, given what you now know about my level of taxation, you legitimately expect me to pay.

    If the status quo goes FAR beyond … words, just obscene.

    We’re facing a deficit, in this fiscal year alone, of $1.2 trillion. You could seize 100% of the wealth of the hated 1% and it wouldn’t cover that shortfall. When you came back the following year, they wouldn’t have much of anything left at all to give. See, this is the speedbump inherent in basing your solutions to every problem imaginable on the premise that somebody else can afford to pay for it: Completely aside from the colossal arrogance involved in believing that you’re in a position to dictate right and wrong to anyone else, you eventually you run out of somebody else’s money. What happens then?

    Meanwhile, the actual federal income tax burden on a family of 4 earning $60,000 per year, just claiming standard deductions and exemptions, is slightly over 2%. Factor in mortgage interest, etc. and that can actually swing negative. For a good sized portion of your downtrodden, that percentage is grossly negative.

    So, suggestion: before you go off on some rant lecturing me about being greedy or not doing enough, remember that I’m paying, actually paying, 32% of gross in federal income taxes. Before you presume to dictate that I need to pay more, talk to the guys who are paying nothing or next to nothing (while endlessly griping about how overtaxed they are.) You’ll pardon me if their protestations ring a bit hollow.

    I certainly don’t mind doing my part, but to be frank about it, I think I’m paying my fair share. I paid 32 times the national average in income taxes last year. I paid my fair share, and the fair shares of 32 other people, so jump down off of your high horse.

    I know this reply is very angry, but you cannot write what you wrote and not expect this level of anger.

    I’m not surprised that you’re angry. People who proceed based on emotion usually are. Frankly, I’m more than a bit offended at the astounding level of arrogance required to enable anyone to believe they are in a moral position to determine, for everybody else, what constitutes “enough”. It is what it is though, and frankly I’ve heard it all before.

  76. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Well, but, who was doing the partying, HarvardLaw92? You do realize it wasn’t people on welfare and Medicaid who were spending all that money, don’t you?

    Actually, I’d say that is exactly who benefited from the bulk of the spending. Medicare / Medicaid and Social Security (which includes your disability payments) collectively make up 46% of the federal budget, and whether it offends you or not to hear it, they are both taxes on the one hand and massive welfare programs on the other.

    Your entire rant amounts to “I have it bad. Other people have it bad too, and since you don’t have it bad, it is your responsibility to make it better for the folks who don’t.” I sympathize. I really do, but as I said earlier, I’m paying my fair share. Don’t presume that you have some right to what I have simply because you don’t feel that you have enough. In any rational world, that would be called theft,

    You guys never seem to run out of ways in which your lives could be made better by somebody else’s money.

    You can make as much as you want to make, but when you make more, you should pay more in taxes

    That’s how percentage based taxes work. 35% of $20 million is a heck of a lot larger than 35% of $10 million.

    If you’re asking what should be the limit to the highest tax rate, my answer is, Not 100%.

    LOL, no, I suspect your answer is “whatever rate is required to get what I think I’m entitled to.” I have no problem at all in believing you could rationalize any level of taxation that you think would solve the problems of the people you are so focused on . Truthfully, I suspect you are one of those “people shouldn’t have any more than they need. Take the rest to help others.” gain, you’ll pardon me if I pass on that option.

    Right now the tax marginal tax rate tops at 35%, no matter how much you make — whether you make $20 million or $20 billion. That’s not right and it’s not acceptable. No one is proposing to take all your money away, HarvardLaw92.

    As noted above, they’re already taking 43.52% of it, year after year, on a gross of slightly over $2 million. Just exactly how much more does Kathy the Moral Arbiter of the World deem to be acceptable?

  77. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Kathy,

    I think the left’s obsession with “the rich” is based completely in the politics of envy and resentment. It is really rather obvious

    You may not believe this, but I don’t care how many billions someone has. To be honest I pity them for making money and power their life’s priority: it’s rather pathetic, but if the Soros’s and Koch Brother’s of the planet choose to root around in the dirt like pigs eternally looking for the mext truffle them that’s fine with me. But their obsession should not result in vastly expanded control of our political system because that system is then abused for their own benefit.

    They can keep their money, but I want it out of my democracy.

  78. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Actually, I’d say that is exactly who benefited from the bulk of the spending. Medicare / Medicaid and Social Security (which includes your disability payments) collectively make up 46% of the federal budget, and whether it offends you or not to hear it, they are both taxes on the one hand and massive welfare programs on the other.

    Including Medicare is a pretty big and and switch. It is the massive bulk of that spending and isn’t means-tested. Accordingly the vast,vast majority of it’s benefits go to those not on welfare.

  79. Karl K says:

    I love the Sheldon Adelson references and the fact that he is this huge beneficiary of Citizens United. He gave millions to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. Remind me, how did that work out?

    We forget that Citizens United was about censoring a FILMMAKER….who formed a corporation to shield himself from personal liability, a key reason most corporations are formed. McCain Feingold in its wrongheaded effort to “protect us” against the dastardly moneyed interests winds up limiting the speech of…well, everybody. Stop corporations!! That means stopping the New York Times from editorializing…or WAPO. Or your LLC.

    The rather unsubtle subtext from the left is that corporations are venal and. that campaign contributions from them are equivalent to bribes. (Then again, false equivalence is favorite rhetorical trope of the left). EVERYONE who contributes to political campaigns does so because they think that THAT candidate is a better choice. Of course self-interest is the motive — or do we thing that politics should be all kumbaya and unicorns? (Don’t answer that, Obama voters).

    The minute you start putting dollar amount restriction on citizens to spend on political campaigns you restrain speech. How much is too much? So I can print up 10,000 flyers…but not 10,001 because at that point it moves to the point of excessive influence? Who decides that? YOU? John McCain? Russ Feingold for heaven’s sake?

    And one last thing. At the end of the day, the left ALWAYS tries to take what they think is the high moral ground — “let’s get money out of campaigns and make them pure” (fat ‘effin chance that one) — but the REAL view they have is that the electorate is stupid and we, the great gatekeepers, want to make sure your poor small brains aren’t swayed by the malevolent Karl Rove, and his co-conspirators, the Koch brothers. It’s condescending and disgusting.

  80. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    “Alex, I’ll take Envy for $2,,000″

    Doug, I have so far considered you an informed partisan.

    What I hadn’t you down as, was a, excuse my Klatchian, bloody moron. You might want to take a step back and reconsider these statements.

  81. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “The relative wealth of the parties is irrelevant to the law and the only people I ever see who are obsessed with that question are on the left. ”

    Because the right has the backing/is generally run by the economic elites.

  82. bk says:

    @Karl K:

    We forget that Citizens United was about censoring a FILMMAKER

    Oh, what horseshit. Citizens United was all about making a “documentary” that trashed Hillary Clinton and trying to air it during primary season.

  83. Slartibartfast says:

    “Alex, I’ll take Envy Resentment for $2,000″

  84. Slartibartfast says:

    Just exactly how much more does Kathy the Moral Arbiter of the World deem to be acceptable?

    I think that’s not so much the issue as is do you really need to be bringing home that other million-plus dollars? Really, who can justifiably claim ownership to more than a million dollars a year when there are people starving in the streets by the millions?

    Or something like that.

  85. Bennett says:

    @Karl K:

    but the REAL view they have is that the electorate is stupid and we, the great gatekeepers, want to make sure your poor small brains aren’t swayed by the malevolent Karl Rove, and his co-conspirators, the Koch brothers. It’s condescending and disgusting.

    Using this line of reasoning, isn’t it condescending and disgusting of major political donors to think that they can sway public opinion with their money?

  86. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    They can keep their money, but I want it out of my democracy.

    Now this I entirely agree with.

  87. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    Including Medicare is a pretty big and and switch. It is the massive bulk of that spending and isn’t means-tested. Accordingly the vast,vast majority of it’s benefits go to those not on welfare.

    For starters, no. The percentages are roughly equal with regard to spending on Social Security and Medicare at present. Neither program has, or has ever had, a dedicated fund with actual money in it intended to pay for future benefits. Money comes in as taxes and is spent as benefit payments. That sounds like welfare to me.

    You are using a selective definition of “welfare”. I believe that the term encompasses any program that takes money from one group (be that the wealthy, workers in general, etc.) and gives it to another group (retirees, the poor, etc.). It’s a bit intellectually dishonest to say “only programs that give money to the poor are welfare programs, so that doesn’t apply to me”.

  88. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Slartibartfast:

    I think that’s not so much the issue as is do you really need to be bringing home that other million-plus dollars? Really, who can justifiably claim ownership to more than a million dollars a year when there are people starving in the streets by the millions?

    Which is exactly the underlying argument I alluded to Kathy holding above. You’ve set yourself up as the arbiter of how much someone else should be allowed to have. It amounts to “I think you have too much, and the fact that other people don’t have enough allows me to justify (or more appropriately rationalize) taking from you so that I can fix their problems.”

    It’s some sort of twisted Robin Hood fantasy, IMO. Nevermind that close to 50 years of debilitating and humiliating welfare checks, free school lunches, government handouts, etc. has resulted in an abject failure to remotely solve the problem of poverty. You brush right past that sad fact and say “let’s try 50 more”. An aphorism about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results comes to mind.

  89. glitchus says:

    Funny how anything that goes against the wishes of democrats is extremist or radical, which is to say that anything to the right of Stalin is extremist. The democrats are the party of extremism, corruption and violence, they own it.

  90. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Fine but you are pulling another bait and switch in that your initial comment was definitively about rich vs. poor. As a reminder:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Well, but, who was doing the partying, HarvardLaw92? You do realize it wasn’t people on welfare and Medicaid who were spending all that money, don’t you?

    Actually, I’d say that is exactly who benefited from the bulk of the spending. Medicare / Medicaid and Social Security (which includes your disability payments) collectively make up 46% of the federal budget, and whether it offends you or not to hear it, they are both taxes on the one hand and massive welfare programs on the other.

    Given that Medicare isn’t means tested, lumping it in as “welfare” when responding to a discussion about class warfare, envy of the rich and the plight of the poor is illogical.

  91. swbarnes2 says:

    When Steve Jobs died, there was a big pile of cards and pictures lying just outside the Apple Store. Is Doug claiming that every single one was left by a conservative? Because as I see it, “leftists” thought Steve Jobs was fine, even though he was super rich, because he made his money selling stuff that lots of people actually liked.

    Who thinks that anyone will leave cards outside the door of one of these bankers who crashed the economy, and then made a personal windfall off of bailout money?

    Who wants a Didius Julianus presidency?

  92. An Interested Party says:

    Just exactly how much more does Kathy the Moral Arbiter of the World deem to be acceptable?

    Just exactly how little does HarvardLaw92 the Moral Arbiter of the World deem to be acceptable?

    Funny how anything that goes against the wishes of democrats is extremist or radical, which is to say that anything to the right of Stalin is extremist.

    Really? These days, with the way the President has been characterized by his political enemies, it seems like a lot of conservatives think that anything to the left of Bob Dole is socialism/communism/fascism or whatever other evil there is in the world…

    By the way, it’s easy to trash welfare and food stamps because most people think those programs mostly benefit a certain kind of person, but trying to trash Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid as “welfare” is a losing battle, as these programs benefit the middle class…but do keep telling us how awful the wealthy have it in this country….those poor victims…

    An aphorism about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results comes to mind.

    Ahh, the perfect reason not to vote for Mitt Romney, as he would present the real third term of the George W. Bush presidency…

  93. Michael Mainello says:

    @Ben Wolf: While I disagree with your politics, your comment is partially correct. Most people do not even understand Citizens United. However as long as unions can voice their member’s position regardless of member consent, then corporations should have the same option to spend their shareholder funds. Also, I believe lobbyist’s actions should be more transparent.

  94. Slartibartfast says:

    You’ve set yourself up as the arbiter of how much someone else should be allowed to have.

    No, I haven’t. At worst, I’ve set myself up as a (admittedly sarcastic) paraphraser of Kathy.

  95. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    Fine but you are pulling another bait and switch in that your initial comment was definitively about rich vs. poor. As a reminder:

    Not remotely. My initial comment was, and remains, that some people just believe themselves to be entitled to the fruits of another’s labor. The means by which they choose to rationalize that is certainly fluid, but the underlying principle being elucidated here remains constant nonetheless:

    “You have too much. I do not have enough, therefore I am entitled to some of what you have so that I’ll have enough too.” It’s rationalized theft, no matter how you slice it.

    Given that Medicare isn’t means tested, lumping it in as “welfare” when responding to a discussion about class warfare, envy of the rich and the plight of the poor is illogical.

    I suspect it’s more a case of it doesn’t fit neatly into the two extremes (filthy rich and poverty stricken) dialogue that I so often hear from the rending of garments crowd. Including Medicare in the scope of what constitutes a welfare program (which I think any reasonable person would agree with) isn’t so much a case of bad logic as it is one of it not fitting in with your narrative.

  96. Slartibartfast says:

    Which you seemed to have missed. But others haven’t; just look at how unhelpful they think I am!

  97. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I’m not going to bother dignifying this with a response.

  98. Rick DeMent says:

    The idea of a “free”market is a myth. Markets require rules and regulations in order to be functional and useful. These rules and regulations can flow from government, the private sector or a combination of the two, but there is no such thing as a “free” market (with the possible exception of the parking lot of a concert venue where the grateful dead were playing in the 70’s).

    The idea that anyone could ever make the kind of money causing the gap in wealth in an economy were there was anything approaching a free exchange of goods, services, and information is pure moonshine. I do not envy anyone who achieves a greater level of success due to hard work, discipline, and dedication. But the kind of gaps we see now (and have seen throughout human history) are not based on these virtues but are based on a host of other things not the least of which is political and economic actors rigging the game to the detriment of larger society as a whole.

    Wide gaps between rich and poor are not just bad for the poor, ultimately it is bad for the rich too. Right now in this country 20% of the people control 80% of the wealth. Seeing that as a problem in not envy at all, it’s called preserving your individual autonomy. And if people like Doug can’t see that then he’s worse then a fool.

  99. slimslowslider says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Why not?

  100. Slartibartfast says:

    Seeing that as a problem in not envy at all, it’s called preserving your individual autonomy.

    How does Bill Gates being in possession of a few dozen billion dollars affect your autonomy?

  101. Michael Mainello says:

    @Rick DeMent: While your tone is reasonable and soothing your logic is flawed. With very few exceptions, “Free Market” does not mean zero regulation nor rules.

    As government layers on more and more rules and regulation to “make it fair”, it is the people that suffer. Limited rules and regulations that apply to all parties is the way to go. When conservatives bring up the “Free Market” that is what we are striving to achieve.

  102. Slartibartfast says:

    Possibly Rick is thinking that it’s really binary: either you’ve got a free market where you can be subject to fraud without consequence at any time, or there’s complete license for the government to manipulate the market in all ways foreseeable, and some not. There is no middle, damn you! You can’t even define what a market is, because that violates the very idea of free markets.

  103. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @slimslowslider:

    Because it doesn’t deserve one. Feel free to respond to him if you like. I’m just not interested.

  104. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    As government layers on more and more rules and regulation to “make it fair”, it is the people that suffer. Limited rules and regulations that apply to all parties is the way to go. When conservatives bring up the “Free Market” that is what we are striving to achieve.

    No argument, but I think we have to acknowledge that no amount of deleting regulations / rules is going to make an American worker cost competitive on a cost of labor basis with some guy in places like Malaysia who earns $5 for a 12 hour day and gets no benefits.

    Can a case be made that some regulations are burdensome and thereby merit consideration for elimination? Sure, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that doing so will magically reverse post-industrialism. The bulk of those jobs are gone. They are not coming back, regardless of how many regulations we torpedo or how many unions we bust. Hard truth, to face and deal with, if we want to survive.

  105. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: If you are a Harvard lawyer, I hope you don’t approach your cases with such simplistic views. Businesses understand the complete dynamic when it comes to competition. The constant layering of rules and regulations force them to countries you list. Repealing some of these onerous laws will help the US worker compete even with higher wages. The Fair Tax would be especially helpful because all goods manufactured in America and sold overseas are not taxed, Imagine how many companies would relocate to the US because they would not be punished.

    Let me refer you to an article written by that great conservative, former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. He owned a hotel after he retired and almost went broke before he closed it. It was written 20 years ago.

    http://www.inc.com/magazine/19931201/3809.html

  106. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Businesses understand the complete dynamic when it comes to competition. The constant layering of rules and regulations force them to countries you list.

    Rules and regulations are essentially meaningless in the context of where to locate production in a global economy. When I can achieve domestic parity offshore in terms of availability of raw materials, quality of production facilities, etc. then the only variables really left for me to consider become taxation and cost of labor.

    In a globalized economy, I can obtain raw materials anywhere and ship them anywhere. I can build the same plant in Malaysia, using the same machinery and production methods, that I would have built in the US. Due to automation, I can achieve the same level of product quality regardless of which labor pool I obtain my labor from. As a result, I am no longer tied to geography as a factor of production.

    The only cost variables left for me to consider therefore become taxation and cost of labor. Now, US tax policy allows me to offshore profits, so in order for taxation to be a factor in my decision, you have to cut my domestic tax rate to equal the lowest possible rate I can obtain anywhere else in the world. That’s currently about 4%.

    Even if you do, I have no incentive to relocate my production back onshore, because I’m currently paying (as noted earlier) about 42 cents an hour, on average, for my labor pool, and I don’t have to offer them benefits. The cheapest domestic labor that I can obtain, by comparison, will cost me $7.50 per hour, or almost 18 times as much (and that assumes that I can get by with not offering benefits. If I do have to offer them, my cost differential goes up even further.)

    Despite the legion of rhetoric to the contrary (primarily in pursuit of tax breaks), no US manufacturer was ever driven offshore by regulation. They scrambled over one another to be the first ones out the door of cheap labor in pursuit of higher profitability. I have no problem with that. The purpose of a corporation, any corporation, is to generate a return for its shareholders.

  107. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Repealing some of these onerous laws will help the US worker compete even with higher wages.

    Really? Enlighten me as to how reducing onerous regulations is going to make a US worker cost competitive with a guy who earns 42 cents an hour and gets no benefits. I’m all ears.

    The Fair Tax would be especially helpful because all goods manufactured in America and sold overseas are not taxed,

    Right. That will certainly overcome the cost of tariffs imposed by protectionist foreign markets.

    Imagine how many companies would relocate to the US because they would not be punished.

    I would wager close to zero, because, again, you have done nothing to address their massive cost of labor differential. You think they are going to accept their labor cost skyrocketing by a factor of at least 1800% because they are nice guys and they want to help Americans out? You need to distribute some of what you are smoking to the rest of the class.

    Let me refer you to an article written by that great conservative, former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. He owned a hotel after he retired and almost went broke before he closed it. It was written 20 years ago.

    Do I need to point out to you that a hotel is constrained by geography, while a manufacturing plant isn’t? Best of luck …

  108. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Well I guess we will just have to disagree. I guess we should just keep coming up with more and more regulations and business will boom. I really mean “Kaboom”. Read the article I sent you, it applies to manufacturing as well as service. Sensible and minimal regulation helps everyone, burdensome regulation kills everything – except for lawyers which seem to flourish right up to the time bankruptcy occurs.

    With regards to your Fair Tax comment – thanks for illustrating how regulations kill business.

  109. Rick DeMent says:

    @Slartibartfast:

    what I’m thinking of is a situation where one group of people have the means and the access to define the rules of the market in a way that benefits them to the detriment of others. This happens at all levels of society. The entire politics of our economy is all about rigging markets to prevent competition in market they sell to and liberalizing competition in markets they buy from. This is the entire debate about unions in a nutshell. Businesses want “freedom” in their labor markets, but they want to eliminate freedom when they sell by all kinds of means (e.g intellectual propriety laws or zoning).

    You have to be blind, dumb and def not to see it yet people one this discussion are being obtuse when they simply write it all of to my “envy” of the those who have worked so hard. It’s bulls__t of the first order and all one gets for accurately pointing out the obvious is the label of “socialist”.

  110. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Well I guess we will just have to disagree. I guess we should just keep coming up with more and more regulations and business will boom.

    Eliminating regulations that are legitimately burdensome will help businesses that are constrained by geography, sure. You’ll note that I agreed with this premise from the outset.

    That said, manufacturing largely is NOT constrained by geography, so with respect to manufacturing, eliminating regulations , at best, only potentially slows the rate of loss. It doesn’t, and won’t reverse it.

    With regards to your Fair Tax comment – thanks for illustrating how regulations kill business.

    That passes understanding. You do get that these tariffs are imposed by foreign markets on imported goods (i.e. those being exported from the US), right? Reducing or eliminating regulatory burdens in the US has no effect on what barriers a country like , say, China imposes on access to its domestic markets, right?

    No economy of any size in the world doesn’t protect it’s domestic markets, including us.

  111. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Almost 45% of my income is lost to taxation.

    And what is your income?

    What do you consider to be a fair percentage for me to give up so that those with less can have more? 50%? 75%? 100%?

    Well, I already said not 100%, hoping to forestall this silliness. 50% is certainly reasonable. At one time the top income tax rate was about 70%, I think. That may or may not be excessive, but my point is that the top income tax bracket — whether you call it marginal, net, effective, or whatever — is the lowest it’s been in *my* lifetime, at least — and I’m 62 (on July 4).

    The one that I provide for myself, much like any other person.

    You don’t provide it for yourself. Just because you have a job or a profession that pays you well, doesn’t mean you accomplished that in a vacuum, HarvardLaw92. Setting aside the many factors specific to your life, and that were not under your direct control — like the family you were born into, the schools you attended, etc. — *setting that aside,* the society to which you claim to owe nothing provides the political and economic context that helps you succeed financially but does little to nothing for millions of others. Who do you think pays for your low income taxes, and for low corporate taxes, and for all those tax loopholes? Who do you think pays for the extremely favorable tax advantages given to corporations to bribe them (politely known as “encouraging them”) to settle in a particular community? Who do you think gains by union-busting and by so-called “right-to-work” laws? Who do you think pays when low wages facilitated by government (aka law and tax policy) and/or vast swathes of economically depressed areas like Appalachia or pretty much anywhere in the Deep South are kept that way through law and tax policy? People like you benefit, and people like the clerks at Wal-Mart pay. A system like that gives people like you, and big business, advantages that the average person looking for work does not have.

    And it doesn’t end there. Depending on just how wealthy you are, you can afford to send your children to expensive private schools while simultaneously voting for politicians who will cut funding for public education and other services that help people without money. Wealthy individuals can take out country club memberships or memberships in private vacation communities, while still continuing to benefit from public parks, public libraries, and high-quality public schools where they live, even though they don’t use those public facilities. If you live, say, in Brookline, Massachusetts, or Scarsdale, New York, you benefit from high property values and low crime rates that are facilitated by the excellent public schools and the lovely public parks and the well-stocked public libraries that you and your family may never use. But the opposite circumstance, in which low-income or no-income or struggling middle-class families live — families teetering on the edge of poverty — does not confer the same advantage on those people. In other words, someone living in the South Bronx, or in Newark, NJ, or in Compton, California, or the South Side of Chicago, has nothing but shitty public services in their neighborhoods but, unlike people like you, do not have the money to buy those advantages privately.

    How much do you think you should have to pay in exchange for these advantages? Or do you believe you and others at your income level ought to be able to take all those advantages and give nothing back?

  112. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I am sure you are a great lawyer, but probably not much of businessman.

    Yes I understand your point. However you gloss over transportation costs, education, infrastructure just to name a few. I don’t expect manufacturing to come racing back,to the US, but eliminating artificial barriers will help our economy as well as the rest of the world. A worker making $10 per day does not produce the exact same amount as a worker making $10 an hour. Many factors go into the equation, lets be sensible and get the government paper pushers out of the way as much as possible to help our country.

    You probably find my analysis simplistic, but you don’t have to look any further than California, Illinois and Texas to see what burdensome governments and unions can do to a state economy versus more sensible regulations.

    I believe businesses should be able to conduct themselves wherever in the world they want to within the bounds of the law.

  113. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    And what is your income?

    Not that it is either relevant or any of your business, but around $2.13 million.

    Well, I already said not 100%, hoping to forestall this silliness. 50% is certainly reasonable. At one time the top income tax rate was about 70%, I think. That may or may not be excessive, but my point is that the top income tax bracket — whether you call it marginal, net, effective, or whatever — is the lowest it’s been in *my* lifetime, at least — and I’m 62 (on July 4).

    LOL, so let’s assume that my federal tax rate goes to 50% (which it would approach unless you changed the brackets as well.) Assuming all the other taxes I pay remain constant, I will then be paying out 61.52% of gross in taxes.

    No, your point is that you have found a way to rationalize taking (now) 62% of my income to fund your various schemes and plans for making the world a better place. You wonder why I have no problem believing that you could, and would, justify taking that to any level under 100%? As I said, no thanks.

    Who do you think pays for your low income taxes?

    Christ, lady, you think close to 45% in taxation is low?

    Let’s just close this off before we start shouting at one another, but before I do, let me be clear – I am paying what I consider to be far more than my equitable share of the burden. I won’t pay any more than I already do, certainly not at the behest of someone whose existence is contingent on the largesse of the taxation that I’m tasked with paying.. Of that you can be certain.

    I truly don’t care about your delightful ongoing bake sale / everybody gets a cake and a ride on the ferris wheel idea of how the world should be, especially when you expect me to pay for it while giving yourself and people like you a pass on doing the same. Frankly, my reaction then becomes one of “Who the F do you think you are anyway?”

  114. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I believe that the term encompasses any program that takes money from one group (be that the wealthy, workers in general, etc.) and gives it to another group (retirees, the poor, etc.).

    So money taken from the poor and from low-wage workers and given to wealthy individuals, corporations, etc., is *not* welfare?

  115. Slartibartfast says:

    The entire politics of our economy is all about rigging markets to prevent competition in market they sell to and liberalizing competition in markets they buy from. This is the entire debate about unions in a nutshell. Businesses want “freedom” in their labor markets, but they want to eliminate freedom when they sell by all kinds of means (e.g intellectual propriety laws or zoning).

    You have to be blind, dumb and def not to see it yet people one this discussion are being obtuse when they simply write it all of to my “envy” of the those who have worked so hard. It’s bulls__t of the first order and all one gets for accurately pointing out the obvious is the label of “socialist”.

    I have not thrown the s-word out there, just to be clear.

    I’m not sure what your point is with this response. If the powerful can manipulate markets to their advantage, what makes you think that government micro-managing of markets is going to have a better outcome? Or have I misunderstood something, here?

    The more potential reward there is in any government endeavor, the more the influential will bring their influence to bear in reaping said reward. That seems nearly axiomatic to me, as well as unavoidable. If the powerful can’t manipulate markets directly, then they will do so through the force of regulation.

  116. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    Yea because tyranny is so much more appealing to people like you than pesky things like individual liberty, isn’t it?

    Did you steal that line from bithead?

  117. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    However you gloss over transportation costs, education, infrastructure just to name a few.

    Not really. Unless the inherent cost differential in those factors between domestic and offshore exceeds my cost of labor differential, and they don’t, they don’t concern me.

    A worker making $10 per day does not produce the exact same amount as a worker making $10 an hour.

    As long as he produces enough to meet demand, who cares?

    You probably find my analysis simplistic, but you don’t have to look any further than California, Illinois and Texas to see what burdensome governments and unions can do to a state economy versus more sensible regulations.

    Not so much simplistic as idealistic. Yet again, I agree that repealing regulations that are legitimately burdensome to no productive end isn’t problematic. I’m all for it.

    I’m just telling you that it isn’t going to motivate my clients to bring their production back onshore. It didn’t motivate them to leave, and it has no bearing on whether or not they return.

  118. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    So money taken from the poor and from low-wage workers and given to wealthy individuals, corporations, etc., is *not* welfare?

    How exactly is money taken from them? On any realistic evaluation, they receive more in direct and indirect subsidies from the state than they pay in taxes. In the net analysis, they are takers.

  119. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    My initial comment was, and remains, that some people just believe themselves to be entitled to the fruits of another’s labor.

    You continue to make this point, however, while ignoring the point that “some people” very much includes the wealthy. You are ignoring the point made here that when you become wealthy as an individual, or when corporations make huge profits, largely as the result of being exempted from taxes that others still have to pay, and/or from being given a permanent pool of low-wage workers via union-busting legislation and right-to-exploit laws, and/or by being exempted from taxation on enormous unearned, non-income giveaways like stock options, private jets and cars, and golden parachutes, YOU are declaring yourself entitled to money that YOU have stolen from the fruits of others’ labor.

  120. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    or when corporations make huge profits, largely as the result of being exempted from taxes that others still have to pay

    The have avoided the bulk of taxation by essentially renouncing their US citizenship and relocating abroad. Be sure to let me know when you don’t have the option to do the same.

    and/or from being given a permanent pool of low-wage workers via union-busting legislation and right-to-exploit laws,

    Right, because people are forced to work at gunpoint in jobs that exploit them, have no ability to change jobs, move, take advantage of educational benefits in order to improve their lot in life, etc, right? They’re powerless to start their own businesses, and thereby put themselves on the other side of the paradigm they so revile. They’re all just powerless victims of the mean and nasty people who provide them employment.

    The truth of the matter. 99% of their (and your) problem is their own victim mentality. “Oh woe is me, I can’t keep up and I need to be carried. I’m entitled to it because I’m a victim and the world hasn’t been nice to me. Boo hoo.”

    Spare me … Take responsibility for your own success, stop whining and compete. Otherwise choose to lay down and get ran over. The choice is yours.

    YOU are declaring yourself entitled to money that YOU have stolen from the fruits of others’ labor.

    No, sweetheart. I’m declaring myself entitled to the fruits of my own labor. Unless I missed something, those people are paid a wage in return for labor services rendered. That’s all that they legitimately have a right to expect, and if they don’t like the deal, well, as noted, they have a plethora of options available to them.

    But that would involve losing their sense of victimhood, and we just can’t have that, now can we?

  121. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    How exactly is money taken from them? On any realistic evaluation, they receive more in direct and indirect subsidies from the state than they pay in taxes.

    I’ve already explained this, several times. Money is taken by the rich from the poor in many ways. For one, through “right-to-work” laws and laws that limit or forbid collective bargaining: When state legislatures pass laws that ban union organizing, that keeps local wages low, at minimum wage. That increases the profits of businesses that otherwise — if wages were not being kept artificially low through such legislation — would have to pay their employees higher wages, or pay for safety equipment and practices that would cost them more money. You, as a wealthy employer, are making money that has been taken from others.

    Your problem is that you either don’t understand, or won’t acknowledge, that taxes are not the only way people’s money is taken from them. It’s a very convenient blindness.

  122. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    The have avoided the bulk of taxation by essentially renouncing their US citizenship and relocating abroad.

    That’s not what I’m talking about. God almighty, give me patience. I’m talking about companies that are romanced by states or local communities to relocate or build new facilities in their state or local community by promising said companies that they will be given a vast campus of land on which property taxes will be waived, or very significantly cut. That’s just one example of how tax policy is used to take money away from poor people to give to rich people, because who do you think has to make up those funds that the companies will now not have to pay? You know which funds I mean, don’t you? The funds that pay for garbage pickup, fire and police service, the local public schools, the public parks, and the public libraries. Those things still have to be paid for, HarvardLaw92. Who do you think will be picking up the cost of those essential services now that your company doesn’t have to pay for the town property it’s sitting on?

    This is not hard stuff to understand.

  123. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: If you have read all of the comments you will note I disagree with Harvard92 on some of his analysis, but in this case he is correct.

    Collective bargaining does a great job of driving business out of a state or country. Wages in states that allow it may be higher than those without it, but so is the cost of living along with the cost government. At one time, collective bargaining served a worthwhile purpose, but now it just serves the democratic party and union leaders purpose. Please show me a successful state that encourages the practice.

  124. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Right, because people are forced to work at gunpoint in jobs that exploit them, have no ability to change jobs, move, take advantage of educational benefits in order to improve their lot in life, etc, right?

    God, God, God. Are you really this stupid or callous? Are you serious? A person has to have a literal gun literally pointed to their head to be, really and truly, forced to take a shit job that pays shit wages because there are no other jobs or no better jobs around, and the money to move and resettle somewhere else — even if better jobs were to be found there — doesn’t exist?

    You are clueless, totally clueless. Totally sheltered, insulated, by $2.13 million. Packed in layers and layers of money that blocks out everything you don’t want to see.

    Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? If they be like to die, they had better do so and decrease the surplus population.

    Really, HL92, you are a sad, sad person. I would not want your millions for anything in the world if it made me as deaf and blind as you seem to be.

  125. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Money is taken by the rich from the poor in many ways. For one, through “right-to-work” laws and laws that limit or forbid collective bargaining:

    Right, because, again, people are forced at gunpoint to remain at jobs they dislike or which they feel exploit them, right?

    When state legislatures pass laws that ban union organizing, that keeps local wages low, at minimum wage. That increases the profits of businesses that otherwise — if wages were not being kept artificially low through such legislation — would have to pay their employees higher wages, or pay for safety equipment and practices that would cost them more money.

    No, dear. As noted, they’ll either move their production to another state that has cheaper labor, or they’ll simply move it offshore. Labor unions only work for the benefit of the worker when they have effective control over the entire labor pool. They haven’t had that for a long, long, long time. Offshoring killed what little benefit a union could offer to a worker.

    Your problem is that you either don’t understand, or won’t acknowledge, that taxes are not the only way people’s money is taken from them. It’s a very convenient blindness.

    And your problem, as noted above, is you choose to consider yourself and others like you to be powerless victims. That’s your failing, not mine.

    I’m talking about companies that are romanced by states or local communities to relocate or build new facilities in their state or local community by promising said companies that they will be given a vast campus of land on which property taxes will be waived, or very significantly cut.

    And, when they do, they create jobs for those folks who previously didn’t have one. My God, how awful that is.

    That’s just one example of how tax policy is used to take money away from poor people to give to rich people, because who do you think has to make up those funds that the companies will now not have to pay?

    LOL, frankly? Me and people like me. We’ve already established that the bulk of the lower, lower-middle and middle classes are net takers. They aren’t paying for anything. They are BEING paid for. So if there is an added cost to enticing industry through tax breaks for business, those added costs will be paid for by the folks who actually net pay taxes to begin with – in other words, me.

    Who do you think will be picking up the cost of those essential services now that your company doesn’t have to pay for the town property it’s sitting on?

    Simple version? Anybody who, on net, pays more in taxes than they receive in direct and indirect state spending. Not to burst your balloon, but as noted, that isn’t you. It’s me.

  126. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    God, God, God. Are you really this stupid or callous? Are you serious? A person has to have a literal gun literally pointed to their head to be, really and truly, forced to take a shit job that pays shit wages because there are no other jobs or no better jobs around, and the money to move and resettle somewhere else — even if better jobs were to be found there — doesn’t exist?

    Call it callousness if you like. I respect people who take responsibility for their own success and don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves over how unfair the world is. Those people I’ll gladly bend over backwards to help – and do.

    The feeling sorry for themselves victims? No, I won’t volunteer a dime for their benefit. If you want help, you can start by helping yourself. Thinking you are entitled to it is a one way ticket to nowhere.

    Really, HL92, you are a sad, sad person. I would not want your millions for anything in the world if it made me as deaf and blind as you seem to be.

    Really? Because it certainly sounded as though earlier you had all manner of plans for better ways to make use of my income. You certainly weren’t shy about asserting that I should be paying more of it for your benefit, yet now you don’t want it?

    I think what you want is for someone to acknowledge your sense of victimhood, pat you on the head and feel sorry for your lot in life and guilty about their own.

    Sorry, that isn’t me. I have no use for victims.

  127. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    No, sweetheart. I’m declaring myself entitled to the fruits of my own labor. Unless I missed something, those people are paid a wage in return for labor services rendered.

    My darling Clementine, you are entitled to be paid what your skills, intelligence, education, and training make you worth. If you are not getting what you are worth, you have the option to take six months or a year or several years to secure just the right spot, where you are compensated fairly. And you have a vast pool of job possibilities to choose from.

    That is not the case for someone living in the Mississippi Delta or in Appalachia or any of thousands of hopeless places. Of course, good public schools, job training programs, community centers and public libraries to keep children engaged in productive activity and off the streets, and workplaces with strong unions that give workers the same power employers have to act in their own self-interest could go a long way toward enabling people living in such places to improve their lot — but you don’t want to pay what it costs to create or maintain such programs or services. You, my love, want people without your resources to do it all by themselves, without help from anyone or anything, *even though you yourself had help from lots of people and lots of resources.*

  128. Slartibartfast says:

    Are there no workhouses?

    No, there aren’t. Next silly question, please.

  129. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: As I read your diatribe I am wondering why you want to control everyone’s life? You seem to be saying that you or the government should regulate everyone and every activity.

    Why should you look at someone in the Mississippi Delta and say you are being exploited, let me fix it. Maybe their family owns their home and they are happy with what they have. Jobs in the south are growing because the governments have turned away from the soul robbing Democratic Party to one of limited government and competition. Toyota, Honda, BMW, Nissan, and Hyundai have plants in the south. Too bad President Obama (and to a lesser extent Bush) did not allow GM and Chrysler to declare bankruptcy so they could re-organize. Who knows maybe Detroit would be doing better.

  130. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    My darling Clementine, you are entitled to be paid what your skills, intelligence, education, and training make you worth

    And that applies to EVERY worker in the world. In my case, that is about $2.13 million per year, which you just seem to think is too much.

    If you are not getting what you are worth, you have the option to take six months or a year or several years to secure just the right spot, where you are compensated fairly. And you have a vast pool of job possibilities to choose from.

    I’m sorry. I forgot that student loans are only available to rich people and that community colleges only admit the same. My mistake ….

    That is not the case for someone living in the Mississippi Delta or in Appalachia or any of thousands of hopeless places.

    Boo frigging hoo … There you go with the victimhood thing again.

    Of course, good public schools, job training programs, community centers and public libraries to keep children engaged in productive activity and off the streets, (meaningless bullshit deleted here) could go a long way toward enabling people living in such places to improve their lot

    Strange. We’ve had all of those things for decades, and yet they haven’t improved their lot. We now have more people in poverty than we did when we set out on that adventure.

    Of course, I have no doubt that you’ll shortly be telling “well, we just didn’t spend enough.” – to which I reply – bullshit. No amount of spending is going to make a person take responsibility for their own success. If anything, these gimme programs just enforce the sense of entitlement. In other words, the primary product of a handout is – more outstretched hands.

    You, my love, want people without your resources to do it all by themselves, without help from anyone or anything

    No, as noted I will (and do) go out of my way, on my own accord, to help people that have decided to help themselves. What I won’t do is listen to anybody tell me how they are entitled to anything. Lead off with that and you’re dead with me before you get past the first sentence.

  131. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I think what you want is for someone to acknowledge your sense of victimhood, pat you on the head and feel sorry for your lot in life and guilty about their own.

    You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not a victim at all. I’m a survivor. I’ve survived the death of a child, my father’s suicide, an unhappy marriage and divorce, and more, and I’ve managed to co-raise a child who graduated from Barnard College and works at the New York Times, but more important is one of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve ever known.

    And I did NOT do it all by myself. I give myself the credit I deserve, and I deserve a lot, but I could not have survived without help — and I mean help in every sense of that word: help from friends who were there when I needed them, help from social services that were there when I needed them, and help deriving from what was totally out of my control — being raised by parents who instilled in me a passion for books and learning, and for social justice and being a compassionate person and not a selfish bastard. I was also lucky enough to be born into a middle-class family at a time when families could be middle class with only one wage-earner. And also at a time when middle class people could afford things that now are only affordable for rich people — like college, which my father actually paid for on his own, without financial aid, and today that would not be possible on the equivalent of the salary he made, and I was incredibly lucky.

  132. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Too bad President Obama (and to a lesser extent Bush) did not allow GM and Chrysler to declare bankruptcy so they could re-organize. Who knows maybe Detroit would be doing better.

    This I have to take exception with. Both GM and Chrysler DID reorganize in bankruptcy, and as a result are far more competitive than they previously were.

    The kicker here is, I think, a misunderstanding of bankruptcy laws. Chapter 11 filings require that the declarant secure debtor in possession financing, otherwise they are mandated by law to be converted into Chapter 7 filings (liquidation).

    The capital markets had essentially collapsed. No private lender / consortium of lenders would have backed DIP for GM or Chrysler. Both companies had quietly made inquiries about that prior to seeking government assistance, and had found no support.

    So the options legitimately became: either the government steps in to secure DIP, both companies declare 11, and subsequently get forced into 7 / get liquidated by the bankruptcy court, or they get forced into an involuntary 7 by their creditors, taking not only themselves but a good portion of their (shared) supplier base with them, which would have further hurt Ford, et al.

    I’m not sure you have an appropriate appreciation for how close to the abyss we skated re: Gm & Chrysler.

  133. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not a victim at all. I’m a survivor. I’ve survived the death of a child, my father’s suicide, an unhappy marriage and divorce, and more, and I’ve managed to co-raise a child who graduated from Barnard College and works at the New York Times

    Well then, you , of all people, should well know that you aren’t doing these people any favors by considering THEM to be victims.

    And you do.

  134. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Thanks for the clarification.

    Correct me on these points if I am wrong, didn’t the union contracts remain in place which hindered management’s flexibility and why were the union placed ahead of the bond holders in the payoff settlement?

    I personally agreed with the bank bailout because from everything I have read much of the problem was caused by government programs that reduced lending standards.

  135. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Well then, you , of all people, should well know that you aren’t doing these people any favors by considering THEM to be victims.

    And you do.

    “These people”? “Them”?

    I am one of what you think of as “these people,” HarvardLaw92. And no, I do not consider people who are poor or near-poor, or can’t make ends meet or pay bills, or can’t see a doctor because they have no health insurance, or can’t go to college because the bank foreclosed, or any one of a million other ways in which people’s lives can fall apart, to be victims. I don’t define “victim” as “someone who needs help.”

    You missed *everything* I just wrote, HL92. I *told* you, I could NOT have survived everything I’ve been through if I had not received help. I just *told* you that.

    A victim can be many things, but in the context of this discussion a victim, imo, is someone who cannot rise above his or her own prejudices, preconceptions, resentments, and misplaced beliefs. If anyone is a victim here, it’s you, HL92. Your anger and your overwhelming feeling that people who have no money or income, or who have fallen on hard times, or who are sick or struggling financially, are somehow trying to take your riches away from you have you in a personal prison that doesn’t allow anything else in.

  136. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: While this conversation is between you and Harvard92 – I don’t see where you are reading what he is writing and it is your anger and prejudice that is the problem. The wealthy as a group give quite a bit to charity.

    Privately funded charities have the ability and more importantly the flexibility to help people. Bill Gates has a very well funded charity that appears to be doing good work, with his money. Many communities in the US have libraries because of Andrew Carnegie. I belong to a Fraternal Organization that does a lot of great work for children and elderly using our private funds.

    The government is, to use a cliche, a bull in a china shop.

    Anyway banks foreclose because people don’t pay their mortgage, not because they want to kick people out on the street. You are very angry and I am sorry for what life has thrown your way.

  137. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Correct me on these points if I am wrong, didn’t the union contracts remain in place which hindered management’s flexibility

    No. The UAW had already made some concessions, but the union contracts were left with the old company (a new GM was essentially recreated from selected pieces of the old GM. That old GM died, and the union contracts died with it.)

    GM and the UAW reached agreement on a new contract in September, 2011, with pretty significantly reduced pay & benefit packages for new hires. As the older workers age out and leave, GM’s cost structure incrementally improves with each new hire that replaces them.

    why were the union placed ahead of the bond holders in the payoff settlement?

    Bondholders are secured creditors, and are essentially at the front of the line with regard to collecting any recoupment in a bankruptcy. That said, their holding obligations were far more than GM could realistically afford to repay, so they were given the option of choosing to exchange equity for debt in a discounted straight swap. They chose to accept the swap.

    The UAW ended up with more than the bondholders did because it agreed to accept more or less all of GM’s legacy healthcare obligations, in return for defined contributions from GM. Much of those contributions were paid in stock instead of cash (which GM didn’t have), so the union ended up holding a larger block of stock as a result.

    That said, they assumed some truly massive legacy obligations from GM as well. They’ve essentially bet the farm (and their retirees’ future health coverage) on GM succeeding. If it fails, they are left with massive healthcare payments and a truckload of worthless stock. GM owes those retirees nothing further, which was a major coup for the company (and frankly one that I was surprised the union agreed to accept).

    Honestly, GM has never had a problem moving units. Even during the worst of the downturn, it was moving a significant amount of product. Its cost structure just put the breakeven point at a ridiculously high number (I don’t remember the specific level).

    The new employment terms and it shedding those legacy healthcare burdens dramatically lowered its breakeven level. Honestly, it’s in a much better position than it was before, certainly a better one than Ford.

  138. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    We’ll just have to disagree here, Kathy, just as we’ve been disagreeing on how best to spend my money for some time now.

    Frankly, I see no possibility for common ground and I’m not remotely interested in being lectured about the ways in which other people are more qualified to dictate how my money should be spent than I am. It’s tiresome and, frankly, it’s insulting.

  139. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Thanks, I appreciate the explanation. I am in no way wealthy and since I am a military retiree, probably a net taker, I do own my own business and up until this recession, was paying in quite a bit in taxes.

    I enjoyed our discussion.

  140. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Honestly, I could have expressed that better, and I apologize for any offense it may have created.

    Truthfully, I don’t really mind paying more than the average guy. I earn more than he does, but the fire department (for example) doesn’t get to my house any more quickly, and the water doesn’t come out of my tap any cleaner. It’s to my advantage that people have jobs and education and roads to drive on, and me paying more than other folks is the only way it’s going to work.

    I just tend to take umbrage at folks like Kathy essentially calling me names while I’m doing it.

  141. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    We’ll just have to disagree here, Kathy, just as we’ve been disagreeing on how best to spend my money for some time now.

    Sure, we can do that, but let me make one more attempt to find common ground. You say it’s “tiresome” and “insulting” to be “lectured about the ways in which other people are more qualified to dictate how my money should be spent than I am.”

    Despite what you may think, I can understand that. I can understand it because I feel the same way. I find it offensive to be told by others how they think my money should be spent. So let me make a proposition for the purpose of discussion. Perhaps we could agree that all of us should be able to decide for ourselves, as individuals, how our money will be spent. I have no problem with my money being spent to make sure everyone can eat, make a decent living, and have a place to live and a way to get a good education. But I *do* have a problem — a huge one — with my money being spent to pay for Afghan civilians to be killed with unmanned drones. I also have a problem with my money being spent to support the oil and gas industry with subsidies. I have a problem with my money being spent to finance targeted assassinations overseas, to pay for continuing operations at Guantanamo, to pay for all the wars the U.S. has been involved in since 1972 (the year I graduated from college and got my first job). I even have a problem with Republicans who want to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by ending Medicaid and privatizing Medicare and Social Security — for the latter two of which, I should add, I have paid into with my taxes for over 30 years.

    So can we agree that each of us — all Americans, as individuals — should be able to decide which government operations we will pay for and which we won’t?

  142. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: I even have a problem with Republicans who want to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by ending Medicaid and privatizing Medicare and Social Security — for the latter two of which, I should add, I have paid into with my taxes for over 30 years.

    First off it is the Democrats that have removed 500 Billion to make Obamacare fiscally appealing, not the Republicans. Republicans have proposed a voluntary plan for people under 55 to privatize a portion of their SS. Republicans have proposed a bi-partisan plan with a few brave Democrats to explore other options to keep Medicare feasible.

    Democrats are the ones that expanded SS and Medicare for recipients that were not originally intended for the program and thus driving up the cost. It was a Democratic President and spineless Republicans that approved the reduction in SS with holding and further hurt the program to pander to people.

    It was a Republican president and congress that approved Medicare Part D that came in 10% under budget forecast and created a prescription drug benefit for seniors. It used limited market forces to create competition and save money. To my knowledge this is the only government program that has come in below estimates.

    While no likes war, it was approved by Congress (unlike President Obama and Libya) and is a fundamental portion of our Presidents job to protect America.

  143. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: I even have a problem with Republicans who want to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by ending Medicaid and privatizing Medicare and Social Security — for the latter two of which, I should add, I have paid into with my taxes for over 30 years.

    First off it is the Democrats that have removed 500 Billion to make Obamacare fiscally appealing, not the Republicans. Republicans have proposed a voluntary plan for people under 55 to privatize a portion of their SS. Republicans have proposed a bi-partisan plan with a few brave Democrats to explore other options to keep Medicare feasible.

    Democrats are the ones that expanded SS and Medicare for recipients that were not originally intended for the program and thus driving up the cost. It was a Democratic President and spineless Republicans that approved the reduction in SS with holding and further hurt the program to pander to people.

    It was a Republican president and congress that approved Medicare Part D that came in 10% under budget forecast and created a prescription drug benefit for seniors. It used limited market forces to create competition and save money. To my knowledge this is the only government program that has come in below estimates.

    While no likes war, it was approved by Congress (unlike President Obama and Libya) and is a fundamental portion of our Presidents job to protect America.

  144. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    While no likes war, it was approved by Congress (unlike President Obama and Libya) and is a fundamental portion of our Presidents job to protect America.

    Making sure all of our citizens are adequately fed, housed, and educated, and that all of our citizens have access to health care, is part of protecting America, too. 50 million uninsured Americans is a significant national security risk, as is a populace where large numbers of people are so undereducated or badly educated that they can’t identify any of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, or say what the three branches of government are and what they are for.

    And although it isn’t the major point in this discussion, but as an aside, it’s not true that nobody likes war. The military-industrial complex likes it pretty well. It’s how they make their living.

  145. Michael Mainello says:

    You are much too cynical and what you quote is not part of government’s role in protecting America. Based upon your answers you are living in the wrong country.

  146. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    I am much too cynical? This coming from someone who thinks everyone on welfare or food stamps spends their govt. checks on new Lexuses and fancy clothes and jewelry?

    “… and what you quote is not part of government’s job in protecting America.”

    It’s just as much a part of government’s protective role as sending a permanent military to invade countries all over the world, Michael. “Promote the general welfare” is just as much part of the Constitution as “provide for the common defence” is.

  147. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: You can do anything you want with your money. If you decide to open a homeless shelter and it is within the bounds of the law, then go for it. Most of us draw the line when you start saying “Give Me Your Money So I Can Run A Homeless Shelter”. Convince your friends, neighbors, other businesses to contribute. Hell, ask homeless people to help run the thing, but don’t expect people to be receptive to your “feeling” that government should confiscate funds for something unconstitutional and unproductive.

    Remember it was the Communists that guaranteed full employment for all of their people. How did that work out for them?

    A strong standing army keeps the peace. A weak country invites itself to be attacked. I spent 20 years in the military and never saw combat. The one war I would of been a part of was over before I could be used.

  148. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: This coming from someone who thinks everyone on welfare or food stamps spends their govt. checks on new Lexuses and fancy clothes and jewelry?

    I never said that, but I know there is a lot of fraud in the program and they should only be able to receive limited staples and cook it themselves. No sweets, cakes, steak, soda, etc.

  149. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Most of us draw the line when you start saying “Give Me Your Money So I Can Run A Homeless Shelter”.

    Most of us? What an odd thing to say. How do you know what most Americans believe?

    And as I said before, the fact that different people may draw the line at different expenses is why I proposed that we all be able to decide, as individuals, which government expenses we think are appropriate and will pay, and which we think are not, and will not.

    Homelessness, unemployment, access to health care, and many other domestic issues are *national* problems. They are not issues isolated to one town or one part of the country. National problems call for national solutions. A problem like homelessness cannot be solved or even adequately addressed by individuals volunteering at homeless shelters.

    Remember it was the Communists that guaranteed full employment for all of their people. How did that work out for them?

    You’re really all over the map, aren’t you? What does the idea that it’s the job of government to address problems that affect the life of the nation have to do with Communism? And regardless of whether “it was the Communists that guaranteed full employment for their people,” what does *that* have to do with anything? Who here said anything about guaranteeing full employment?

    A strong standing army keeps the peace. A weak country invites itself to be attacked.

    That’s a debatable point, but what’s not debatable is that the Founding Fathers were not keen on the idea of standing armies, and the Constitution does not provide for one, or indeed, say anything about the subject.

  150. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    … they should only be able to receive limited staples and cook it themselves. …

    ?????

    Who are you thinking cooks for food stamp recipients now?

  151. An Interested Party says:

    I’m not going to bother dignifying this with a response.

    No, of course you won’t, as you probably don’t have a reasonable response to how little the wealthy should pay or how Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are “welfare” or how people like you are given such a raw deal in this country…you poor thing…

    Republicans have proposed a voluntary plan for people under 55 to privatize a portion of their SS.

    Oh yes, Social Security must be destroyed to be saved…

    It was a Republican president and congress that approved Medicare Part D that came in 10% under budget forecast and created a prescription drug benefit for seniors. It used limited market forces to create competition and save money.

    A pity that this legislation was crafted with a dirty deal with Big Pharma that prevented a truly free market approach to create real competition and save real money…this program was marinated in the same oily lobbying that drenches so many other pieces of legislation…

    A strong standing army keeps the peace. A weak country invites itself to be attacked.

    Of course, neither of these sentences have anything to do with the disaster in Iraq…

  152. Michael Mainello says:

    @An Interested Party:@An Interested Party: . I am sure your comments make perfect sense to yourself and your inanimate significant other, but then who am I to judge

  153. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    No, of course you won’t, as you probably don’t have a reasonable response to how little the wealthy should pay or how Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are “welfare” or how people like you are given such a raw deal in this country…you poor thing…

    I guess you missed the part where I asserted that I recognize that the only way the system can work is if I pay more than the average guy, which I decidedly do.

    That said, I paid slightly under $927,000 in federal, state & local income taxes, capital gains taxes, taxes on interest income and property taxes this year (again, I omitted payroll taxes like SS & Medicare, sales taxes, use taxes, etc. from that figure for consistency, so the total amount probably approaches $1 million in taxes paid, but I think you get the point.)

    I’m happy to do my part, because as I said, it’s to my benefit as well that people have schools to attend and roads to drive on and jobs, etc. To that end, I paid 32 times the national average in federal income taxes last year.

    What does that mean? It means that I paid my fair share, and indeed the fair shares of 31 other people as well. I’ve done my part. Perhaps you, in your smug wisdom, can tell me how much more I should be expected to pay?

    As for Social Security and Medicare being welfare programs, I consider any program that collects taxes from one group in order to tender payments to another group to be a welfare program. That makes for an exceedingly long list of welfare programs.

    Neither program builds any sort of advance funding to cover future benefits, and indeed never has. Taxes come in, benefit checks go out. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a welfare program.

    In short, no. I don’t think I’m given a raw deal. What I do think is that I’m paying a far greater share of the burden than most people, and I’m glad to do it, but I’d just as soon people like you didn’t essentially call me names while I’m doing it. Thank you might be a better response.

  154. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Oh yes, Social Security must be destroyed to be saved…

    Truthfully speaking, Social Security is a disaster. The return on investment is abysmal. A person could accomplish far more towards funding their retirement if they just took the money and invested it, even conservatively, over the same time horizon.

    Beyond that, people labor under some sort of delusion that there is, or ever was, some magical “trust fund” with actual money in it devoted to covering future benefit payments. That is an abject lie, and one of the worst ones ever sold to the American taxpayer. Taxes come in, benefit payments go out, and the government spends the rest while piling up intragovernmental debt in these mythical “trust funds” that, from day one, have never held anything BUT debt.

    It’s a ridiculously regressive tax being used as a backdoor source of revenue. It’s a program that penalizes the people who can least afford it with a pathetic return on investment that virtually ensures that the people who use it as their primary source of retirement income (primarily the working poor) will spend their retirement years in continuing relative poverty as well.

    The attitude that people like you take is that these folks have no other option and need the government to hold their hands right through into retirement. That does them a grave disservice. Frankly it assumes that they are all stupid and incapable of planning anything for themselves. It involves the government in something it really shouldn’t be involved in, at the expense of penalizing those in society who can least afford to be penalized.

    So yes, it needs to be destroyed. Not to save it, but to save the people who it victimizes from it.

  155. Rob in CT says:

    What’s really funny about all this is that I see more envy (perhaps resentment is more correct) on the Right than I do on the Left. Maybe it’s actually even, I dunno. Plenty of right-leaning folks are envious of others… it’s just that their envy/resentment tends to be focused on school teachers, garbage collectors, etc. who have pensions. And if you ask why, you will often hear about how the unions skew elections: which is the mirror image of the lefty argument about billionares skewing elections.

    The idea that everyone to the Left of Doug is envious of the rich and wants to “suck them dry” is f*cking ludricrous. But that’s Doug for you, glibertarian all the way down.

    I HAVE money. I’ve always had it. I don’t hate wealth, or wealthy people. I may be angered by wealthy people who are callous bastards, but that’s because they’re callous bastards with power (money = power), not because they have money. I’ve known people with money who actually understood the need for social services. While I disagree with a good deal of what he/she’s said here, I would include HarvardLaw in that (example of disagreement: I think he’s missing, with regard to Social Security, that a guaranteed return has real value. ROI ain’t everything. Also, I don’t think the argument that we have more poverty now than before the Great Society programs started is actually true. It is true that poverty is a really, really tough nut to crack and the GS programs didn’t crack it.)

    The fact is that over the past several decades, changes to the tax laws have shifted the tax burden down the income scale, and this has coincided with increased income disparity and other factors that have squeezed the working & middle classes. Many argue that tax policy should move in the other direction for while (and point to the one time it did, 1993, and note that it didn’t harm our economy), and do so not out of envy but rather concern for the overall health of our people. But I know, thinking in that way is like communism. Why do I love Stalin? Why do I hate John Galt?

    As for the court: surprise! Elect lots of Republican presidents, get a more conservative court. I’ll leave “radical” out of it. Solution: elect fewer Republicans.

  156. Slartibartfast says:

    “Promote the general welfare” is just as much part of the Constitution as “provide for the common defence” is.

    Yes, but you have “promote the general welfare” so that it means exactly what you say it means; nothing less. If we could dig up the Founding Fathers and ask them a few questions, I really doubt that they would agree that when they wrote “promote the general welfare”, they had envisioned mandatory health insurance for everyone.

    I think they’d be more horrified than not by what our government has grown into. And, yes, I include Defense in that assessment.

    This year will see a tax increase on the wealthy even if Congress does nothing. I don’t see that as a bad thing, and Congressional Republicans can probably get by with claiming they have met their pledge to Grover Norquist (which I regard quite contemptuously, BTW) by not voting to increase taxes. Everyone should be happier, no?

    Unless they do something, and Obama again signs off on extending the Bush tax cuts.

  157. Rob in CT says:

    And of course, always looking to the founder’s intent is rather silly Slarti. Not least because we cannot dig them up, reanimate them, bring them up to speed on everything that happened between their deaths and now, and ask them questions. But also, too: they were hardly infallible. Slavery, voting restricted to male property owners and plenty more if I had the desire to make an exhaustive list.

    So hows about we leave them in the ground and work this sh*t out for ourselves?

  158. An Interested Party says:

    I am sure your comments make perfect sense to yourself and your inanimate significant other, but then who am I to judge

    Oh that was weak…surely you can come up with better sarcasm than that…and of course that doesn’t address any of the points raised…

    As for Social Security and Medicare being welfare programs, I consider any program that collects taxes from one group in order to tender payments to another group to be a welfare program.

    Yes, of course…let us just forget that people who pay in at one point get benefits back at another point…yeah, sure seems like “welfare”…

    Thank you might be a better response.

    Why not go even further and have people grovel at your feet for your incredible munificence…

  159. Rick DeMent says:

    If wages in this country were not at such a pathetically dismal low ebb (due to a lot of factors that include the gaming of the system by the powerful, union busting, and “right to work for less” laws) the discussion on taxation would be very different. The fact is that CEO’s in this country make several hundred times more then their counterparts in other developed nations, the wealthy have never been taxed at lower effective rates while commanding a bigger part of the pie. I am sympathetic to Harvard’s arguments concerning his personal situation because he is in the dead center of the sweet spot of taxation in the country; wealthy-ish people who’s income come is derived primarily form wages. Those people get hammered.

    Having said that I find the idea that any lawyer is against unions bust-a-gut laughable. I mean if your so much about individual freedom why not get rid of all requirements for lawyers to be a member of the bar to practice law? I mean it wasn’t that long ago you could just put out a shingle and bam! your a lawyer. Now I’m not stupid and I realize the havoc that might create for a while but the bigger issue I suspect is that it would make every lawyers hourly rate plummet and that is the reason it would be opposed. Ditto that for the huge host of freedom infringing schemes that protect all manner of industries such as copyright and IP laws, licensing requirements (think barbers and hairdressers), and bankruptcy laws that were written by the banking industry to protect them against their own stupidity. I mean it’s OK for the power brokers in giant corporations to pool their collective powers to keep wages low here and around the world but by golly if those ungrateful, unambitious, morons decided to pool their resources for their mutual protection, why that’s just downright un-American.

    I have had that same argument Kathy has been having with Harvard here with people for a long time and in every single instance, I have been able to excavate how government and their evil regulations and subsides have contributed in a significant way to the money that that persona has made over the years … but now they want to say that they made it all with out one lick of assistance from anyone. Even in those rear instances were someone seems to have made it largely on their own it turns out their parents were the beneficiaries of the government largess that contributed significantly to the education and training they received that now allows them to claim a singular ownership to the “fruits of their labor”. In other words it’s mostly horse s__t.

    But hey it’s OK, delude yourself that you are such an Übermensch that you could be plopped down in the middle of some god forsaken war torn butt hole of a country, penniless. and with any friends whatsoever and you would come out on top because … hey that just how good you are. Whatever makes you sleep at night I suppose, lord knows I have my rationalizations.

    For me the question isn’t so much why is Harvard paying 50% of his income in taxes, it’s why is it that so many people in the country make so little that they don’t pay more and contribute to a broader tax base. The answer is that if it were not for the giant swaths of people making coolie wages, Harvard couldn’t make the couple million he does a year because he would be paying more for goods and services. It’s just that simple. It’s true that the economy is not a zero sum game … but it is also true that it’s not bandwidth on demand. The wealthier among us have been getting a bigger and bigger share of the pie for the last 30 years… sooner or later something has to give. so you have a choice Harvard. pay now … or pay later 🙂

  160. Michael Mainello says:

    @Rick DeMent: Naive, simplistic, and arrogant.

    Instead of blaming “the rich and powerful” why not come up with a way to help people become more valuable to society.

    No one appointed you or any other liberal king. You and your liberal line of thought on blaming everyone has been used for hundreds of years to oppress people.

    Could it be that many people just utilized the system available and worked hard to achieve success? Maybe they gave up family or free time, but they pursued their goal. Why do you think your system would be any better?

  161. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I’m happy to do my part, because as I said, it’s to my benefit as well that people have schools to attend and roads to drive on and jobs, etc.

    Actually, I said that, not you. You said you were willing to “do your part,” but you said nothing about public schools, well-maintained roads, and people having jobs being a benefit to you, too. I said that. I was the one who told you that if you live in a community that has excellent parks, public schools, public libraries, community events, etc., you benefit even if you don’t use those facilities, whereas low-income or unemployed people who live in dangerous, run-down neighborhoods that have little to no viable public services do NOT have the ability to buy those amenities privately, while *still benefiting from the public services they do not use themselves.*

    I’M THE ONE WHO SAID THAT.

    Did you build your success on taking credit for what your underlings do, as well?

  162. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Yes, of course…let us just forget that people who pay in at one point get benefits back at another point…yeah, sure seems like “welfare”…

    Um, no. People who pay in are paying benefits to others that are receiving checks, lest we forget that when Social Security began, those who were eligible for benefits began receiving them without ever having paid a dime into the program.

    The people who were then working (and by association paying into the program) were funding the benefit payments for the folks who were receiving them. When those folks retire, the folks who are still working will be funding THEIR benefits. The people who are currently paying SS taxes are funding the benefits for the folks who are receiving them.

    That’s a welfare program.

    Why not go even further and have people grovel at your feet for your incredible munificence…

    The melodrama doesn’t add anything to your argument. It also doesn’t really detract form mine. Try again.

  163. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I have no problem with that. The purpose of a corporation, any corporation, is to generate a return for its shareholders.

    Fair enough, but the purpose of government is to seek and protect the welfare and well-being of its citizenry, NOT to assist corporations in their mission of generating a return for the shareholders.

  164. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    LOL, right. Nobody can possibly have a point of view that originated independently of Kathy’s involvement.

    I’m not sure why this is so difficult to grasp, but I’ll try again: I do not have a problem with doing my part, and never have. I’m a tax litigator. Do you honestly believe that I would be paying a net of almost 45%, with all of the tools available to me for mitigating that figure or indeed eliminating it entirely, were I not inclined to voluntarily pay it?

    As far as I’m concerned, I do my part. I realistically do far more than my part, but as noted, that’s the only way it’s going to work, so I comply. What I have a problem with is people, like yourself, who appoint themselves the moral arbiters of the sufficiency of the contribution of another.

    In other words, I agree with your premise – certain things are national problems and have to be handled at a national level. Income disparity involves some having an obligation to contribute more than others. Your problem isn’t what you propose so much as the manner in which you propose it.

    In other words, to be frank, you need my support to accomplish your goals. I don’t need yours to accomplish mine, so if you want me as an ally for your position, attacking me isn’t the best way to go about obtaining it.

  165. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Fair enough, but the purpose of government is to seek and protect the welfare and well-being of its citizenry, NOT to assist corporations in their mission of generating a return for the shareholders.

    I’m not sure exactly how you believe government assists corporations in doing that. It’s far more apt to assert that government no longer has any real power to exert control over them, and is left with implementing policies that reactively attempt to mitigate the damage, with varying degrees of efficacy.

    You’ve lost sight of the very real fact that globalization has largely gutted the power of government to exert any meaningful degree of pressure on corporations in order to force them to comply with your idea of what constitutes a fair and happy world.

    What exactly do you think that government should do to right the wrong that you perceive? Be specific.

  166. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    At one time, collective bargaining served a worthwhile purpose, but now it just serves the democratic party and union leaders purpose.

    Ah yes, the safe and golden past, when all the things we hate and try to destroy now were good and necessary!

    The grittier reality, though, is that every single right that was won for workers by collective bargaining “at one time” was opposed “at one time” by business owners and/or conservatives just like you. As well, every single right that was won for workers by collective bargaining “at one time” — specifically, the eight-hour work day, an end to child labor, a minimum wage, benefits like sick leave and vacation time, safe working conditions, and more — is being attacked now by people just like you.

    And that’s the pragmatic reason why collective bargaining will always be necessary, even after rights have been won — because as we can clearly see from states like Wisconsin and legislation like “right-to-work” laws that keep wages low and unions out, those rights are NEVER permanently won.

  167. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    This is all well and good, Kathy, but it completely sidesteps the reality that the ability of unions to exert any meaningful degree of pressure on management has been dead for decades.

    Not because government implemented right-to-work laws. Not because Conservatives do or do not hate unions.

    Because organized labor no longer has the ability to control the availability of labor in a global market. Any real power that organized labor ever had came from being able to control the labor pool. Make us mad and we’ll shut you down. In the days of localized production, that was an effective strategy. In a global market? Not so much.

    Business reacted to unionization in the North by moving production to the South. They now have the option of taking that production out of the country entirely. In other words, management now has access to alternative labor pools that render the threat of a work stoppage (which is really the only power that organized labor ever really had) moot.

    You need to realize that the game has changed on a level far beyond what government does or doesn’t do with respect to labor laws.

  168. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Right, because, again, people are forced at gunpoint to remain at jobs they dislike or which they feel exploit them, right?

    Right, because, again, people do not need to have a real gun pointed at their heads to be forced into taking minimum-wage jobs with few or no benefits in life-threatening conditions (think, among many other examples, coal mines) when those kinds of jobs are the only jobs around, and the alternative to taking them is starvation.

  169. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: Wow you sure hate business. As I said yesterday, you are definitely in the wrong country..

    The people in Wisconsin spoke and said NO to collective bargaining for government unions. FDR (a beloved Democratic President) did not believe in collective bargaining for government employees. Wages are kept low by social promotions, dumbing down the population and not valuing hard work and responsibility. Unions can’t gain a foothold into a company unless they force public ballots of employees. They are a bunch of corrupt thugs that have ceased to serve a purpose.

    Just keep attacking success and underwriting failure, people like you are destroying this country.

  170. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    For me the question isn’t so much why is Harvard paying 50% of his income in taxes, it’s why is it that so many people in the country make so little that they don’t pay more and contribute to a broader tax base

    Simple version? Post-industrialism. While it seems a callous thing to say, why should a business, whose only concern is generating a return for its shareholders, pay a US worker $X when it can pay an offshore worker a fraction of $X for much the same end result?

    You guys are busily trying to find someone or something to blame for post-industrialism, as if we were the first industrialized economy in history to go through it or as if our outcome would be any different from the rest of the economies that did.

    The simple fact is that the game has changed, on a global scale, and many folks in the US don’t want to accept that it did. I sympathize, but I also acknowledge reality.

  171. Slartibartfast says:

    And of course, always looking to the founder’s intent is rather silly Slarti.

    It’s never silly, when trying to figure out what those words they wrote mean. What they mean to you, now, is almost totally irrelevant. More to the point, though: when divining what “promote the general welfare” really means; when using “promote the general welfare” as a set of requirements, it’s important to know what they meant by that, or if they meant anything at all specific by that.

    Not least because we cannot dig them up, reanimate them, bring them up to speed on everything that happened between their deaths and now, and ask them questions.

    I see my little scheme to literally dig up the Founders, re-animiate them and put them to the question is not getting any takers.

    But also, too: they were hardly infallible. Slavery, voting restricted to male property owners and plenty more if I had the desire to make an exhaustive list.

    This would make sense if I had, somewhere, used the spotless moral and intellectual character of the Founders as a basis for some argument.

    As for the remainder: isn’t working this sh1t out what we’re doing? Or trying to do?

  172. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Right, because, again, people do not need to have a real gun pointed at their heads to be forced into taking minimum-wage jobs with few or no benefits in life-threatening conditions (think, among many other examples, coal mines) when those kinds of jobs are the only jobs around, and the alternative to taking them is starvation.

    As noted, many of them have the option of attending a community college and changing their skills sets to make themselves more marketable. We even offer them low interest loans (and, for many of them, outright grants) intended to help make that option available to them. Of course, some of them honestly won’t ever be suited (by virtue of their innate abilities) for anything more than manual labor, and post-industrialism will largely leave those people behind.

    That said, at least some of the responsibility for bettering one’s lot in life has to rest on the individual. What I’m getting from your statements is that you believe these people are incapable of doing so and must therefore be supported, in what can only be termed an incredibly degrading and humiliating fashion, by a nanny state.

    Personally, I think many of them are capable of changing their own reality. They’re just too lazy to make the effort.

  173. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Because it certainly sounded as though earlier you had all manner of plans for better ways to make use of my income. You certainly weren’t shy about asserting that I should be paying more of it for your benefit, yet now you don’t want it?

    Actually, I did not say, anywhere in this thread, that I wanted your millions. I don’t want them. I want what I have: a comfortable apartment (“comfortable” defined as in good repair, in good condition, and safe — not as you would define it: luxurious, much larger than I could ever need in 10 lifetimes, filled with every top-of-the-line amenity as soon as it comes out, in a gated community or building with 24-hour security, in a neighborhood or location where everyone looks just like me) in a safe neighborhood (“safe” meaning a neighborhood where I don’t have to fear to walk down the street, where I don’t hear gunshots and see drug deals going down every day, not “safe” as in “protected from anything or anyone that doesn’t look or act like me), that I have the money to pay the rent on every month. For almost 10 years, I did not have that. Now I do, but only because I qualified for a government program called Social Security Disability, which provides me a check every month *based on the work hours I put in over a lifetime of paid work*. And also because there is a government program called Food Stamps, which helps me pay for food I would otherwise not be able to afford, and a food pantry a few miles away from me that provides me food when I use up the $99 before the end of the month.

    I hever said I wanted your millions, and I never instructed you on how I think you should spend your money.

    You are saying I am not entitled to and should not be able to have,

  174. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    For almost 10 years, I did not have that. Now I do, but only because I qualified for a government program called Social Security Disability, which provides me a check every month *based on the work hours I put in over a lifetime of paid work*. And also because there is a government program called Food Stamps, which helps me pay for food I would otherwise not be able to afford

    Who do you think pays for that? Just asking …

    You are saying I am not entitled to and should not be able to have,

    No, I’m saying that, as someone who is dependent on the tax largesse of others for her survival, you might want to rethink the effectiveness of a strategy that involves attacking the people that are footing the bill. It’s counterproductive.

    Consider: I voluntarily pay taxes at a percentage level that would have the “regular guy” out in the street with pitchforks and torches threatening to burn the building down were he to be subjected to it. That I, and many others like me, voluntarily do so is the only reason that the system works at all. The top 5% of taxpayers, which includes me, voluntarily pays for about 60% of everything that government spends money on.

    Perhaps, as noted, calling us names while we’re doing it might be a tad counterproductive for you?

  175. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    As noted, many of them have the option of attending a community college and changing their skills sets to make themselves more marketable.

    And many do. Even people with university educations and great skill sets and years of experience can’t find jobs in this economy. And there are circumstances you will never have to even think about how to solve that make staying in school a daily struggle — like losing the job that helps you pay for it, or losing your financial aid because of budget cuts, or getting sidelined by serious illness because you have no health insurance, and on and on.

    The way you simplify extremely complex human systems may be understandable since you never have to think about them, but that’s a form of laziness, too — mental laziness, which enables you to keep moving in your well-worn mental ruts without making the often painful effort to see what’s really out there, and change.

  176. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I respect people who take responsibility for their own success and don’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves over how unfair the world is.

    Do you respect people who are humble enough to recognize that very few, if any, person’s success is due entirely to his or her own efforts and very few, if anyone’s, failure due entirely (or even at all) to laziness or stupidity?

    There but for fortune go you, go I , and go everyone else. The single most important ingredient in financial success is education. Hard work has MUCH less to do with it. Reasonable people can disagree on exactly how much of a connection there is between working your head and your butt off, and succeeding. I personally think there is almost no connection. Your circumstances growing up (not just financial — also the kind of parents you had, the times you grew up in, where you grew up, and many others), your own basic nature and personality (which of course also goes back to your family, since your basic nature and personality are largely hard-wired), and political and socioeconomic factors in the society you live in, have far more bearing on financial and/or career success than hard work alone.

  177. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: This is what makes taxpayers mad. When the government assumes the role it becomes a “right”. It is BS pure and simple.

    http://www.sentinelsource.com/news/local/clerk-loses-job-over-stand/article_87627ed5-5d4e-5ff0-a781-f14deb034771.html

    Whiton said she did not think EBT cards could be used to purchase cigarettes and refused to sell to him. The two “had a little go-around” as the line got longer behind him, said Whiton.

    “I made the statement, ‘do you think myself, that lady and that gentlemen should pay for your cigarettes?’ and he responded ‘yes,’ ” Whiton said.

  178. Rick DeMent says:

    @Michael Mainello:

    Instead of blaming “the rich and powerful” why not come up with a way to help people become more valuable to society.

    I don’t blame the rich and powerful, they are doing what is in their nature to do. I blame people like you who are too stupid to figure out you’re being played or those who think that if the lick enough boot they will be rewarded with a few scrapes off the table that they themselves helped to create with the sweat of their own brow. People who get up every day and go to work are way more valuable then they are being given credit for. The problem is that the people at the top are the ones who apparently get to decided the value of other peoples labor and the funny thing is that they tend to evaluate their own contributions much much more then they are worth and belittle the contributions of others which is exactly why they hate unions.

  179. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Like I said, Kathy, I think we just need to agree to disagree. I feel like I am doing my part and then some, and I just don’t like the attitude. We’re getting nowhere here.

  180. Michael Mainello says:

    @Rick DeMent:” I blame people like you who are too stupid to figure out you’re being played or those who think that if the lick enough boot they will be rewarded with a few scrapes off the table that they themselves helped to create with the sweat of their own brow. ”

    Thanks for the chuckle. Liberals hate to be questioned. No wonder your type attack anyone that wanders off the party line.

    Wake up, most people are smart and can handle the truth. You and your benevolent liberals handing out your crumbs and patting the people on the head telling them you will fix everything does not hold much water. You fix nothing and pander to their fear.

    Keep drinking the Koolaid and trying to distract your sheep.

  181. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    People who get up every day and go to work are way more valuable then they are being given credit for.

    Truthfully, the value of a worker is measured by nothing more than how difficult it would be to replace him with an equivalent contributor.

  182. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    In my case, that is about $2.13 million per year, which you just seem to think is too much.

    LOL! For the zillionth time, no I don’t, and for the zillionth time, I never said anything like that.

    I forgot that student loans are only available to rich people and that community colleges only admit the same.

    The relevance of student loans to many Americans’ ability to attend college is precisely why Democrats are currently trying to pass legislation that would, among other things, keep interest rates at something like 4% (it may be a little lower or higher I don’t remember the exact figure), instead of going up several percentage points, which they are going to do very soon if Congress does not act.

    Guess who is opposing this legislation and trying as hard as humanly possible to prevent it from passing?

    We’ve had all of those things for decades, and yet they haven’t improved their lot. We now have more people in poverty than we did when we set out on that adventure.

    That’s actually 100% untrue, and/or misleading. Two points, among others: The poverty rate can be defined in different ways, and which way it’s defined can make the official numbers go up or down. See here for more. And if you look further down in that article, you will see that the poverty rate, which of course has fluctuated over time, went down consistently through the 1960s and into the early 1970s. For the rest of that decade, it hovered between 11% and 13%, but then started to rise sharply in 1980, and by 1983 it was at 15%. It continued to go up throughout the 1980s, and by the early 1990s, the poverty rate was essentially identical to what it was before the 1960s. The rate started to go down again around 1993, and continued in that direction for the remainder of the 1990s. Between 2000 and 2004, it started another steady incline.

    Do I need to spell out the rather obvious connections here between the rise and fall of the poverty rate and which political party was in power at those times?

  183. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: ooh, I know, you are going to blame Republicans. Do I get a gold star?

    Hey based on your logic President Obama has really screwed things up.

  184. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    What I won’t do is listen to anybody tell me how they are entitled to anything. Lead off with that and you’re dead with me before you get past the first sentence.

    Well, then, you must have a high rate of living people in your midst, because no one in this discussion has declared themselves to be “entitled” to anything — except, maybe, arguably, you, since you appear to believe that you are entitled to decide how your taxes will be spent, but that no one else is entitled to decide how their tax dollars should be spent. You’re not the only person who pays taxes. Almost everyone pays taxes — even those who don’t pay federal income taxes still pay state and municipal taxes, and sales taxes. And everybody in this country receives goodies in return for their taxes. Not just people receiving welfare or food stamps or Medicaid or Medicare or Social Security.

  185. Slartibartfast says:

    Do you respect people who are humble enough to recognize that very few, if any, person’s success is due entirely to his or her own efforts and very few, if anyone’s, failure due entirely (or even at all) to laziness or stupidity?

    I don’t know about the Harvard lawyer guy, but I tend to look askance at claims such at the one above, when unaccompanied by evidence.

    I would say that without the Harvard lawyer’s efforts in college and law school, he would not be where he is. That’s pretty much punctuated with a period. The same thing goes for my own personal, although much less well-remunerated, success. Other than that: thanks, Mom and Dad!

  186. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Truthfully, the value of a worker is measured by nothing more than how difficult it would be to replace him with an equivalent contributor.

    That IS how the value of workers in this country are measured. But you’re not responding to what Rick DeMint actually said, which was: “People who get up every day and go to work are way more valuable then they are being given credit for.” And that is true. William Deresiewicz (of whom I’ve never heard — I came across him on a Google search for “Workers are wealth creators”) said it better than I ever could in this NYT op-ed only a month ago:

    … if entrepreneurs are job creators, workers are wealth creators. Entrepreneurs use wealth to create jobs for workers. Workers use labor to create wealth for entrepreneurs — the excess productivity, over and above wages and other compensation, that goes to corporate profits.

    So although you are, sad to say, correct that workers’ value is measured by how difficult it is to replace them, it is NOT correct to say that that is how workers’ value SHOULD be measured, IF we were measuring according to wealth-creation rather than individual replaceability.

    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/opinion/sunday/fables-of-wealth.html

  187. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Guess who is opposing this legislation and trying as hard as humanly possible to prevent it from passing?

    Republicans don’t oppose it. In fact, bipartisan legislation addressing it just went from the Senate to the House for approval. Predictably, the problem isn’t, and never was, whether or not it is a good idea. Of course it’s a good idea. The problem is one of: how do we pay for it?

    (Note: don’t even bother responding to that question, as I have no doubt as to what your answer would be.)


    Do I need to spell out the rather obvious connections here between the rise and fall of the poverty rate and which political party was in power at those times?

    Do I need to point out that real wage growth has been essentially flat since the early 1970’s, almost entirely due to the rise of offshoring as standard business practice?

    I’m all for taking prudent steps to keep people from descending into poverty (as I have noted, as nauseum, already.) That said, it isn’t ever going to be 1955 again. You can’t achieve that outcome through redistributive taxation. The world changed in fundamental ways that make it impossible.

    I realize that goes against the core Democrat principle of “we can fix anything if we just spend enough money on it”, but it’s true nonetheless.

  188. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    it is NOT correct to say that that is how workers’ value SHOULD be measured, IF we were measuring according to wealth-creation rather than individual replaceability.

    In your opinion. I would counter with “that worker, like any worker, has the option to go into business for him/herself and thereby reap the rewards of their own wealth creation. if they choose not to do so, and it IS a choice, then they have only themselves to blame”

    Labor is a resource, no different than widgets or bolts or machinery, which is purchased at a mutually agreed upon price in order to achieve an outcome (profit).

    I realize that offends Kathy’s sensibilities with regard to her delightful ongoing bake sale idea of how the world should operate, but oh well.

  189. Michael Mainello says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Democrats don’t like to deal with facts.

    Most of them only worry about feelings.

  190. Slartibartfast says:

    Kathy seems to consistently value her opinion of how reality should be over actual reality.

    Reality is not going to care about how you think it should look. It’s still going out wearing that shirt with those pants and (shudder) those shoes.

  191. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    The problem is one of: how do we pay for it?

    How do we pay for making the Bush tax cuts permanent? How do we pay for the war in Afghanistan? How do we pay for corporate subsidies and tax breaks? How do we pay for what it costs to implement legislation that requires doctors to insert a metal probe inside a woman’s vagina, tell her to look at it and force her to listen while the doctor describes what the screen shows, then make a copy of the ultrasound and send her home to wait 24 or 48 or 72 hours to come back for an abortion, then read her a long document about how what she’s murdering a human being, then perform the abortion? How are we going to pay for operating domestic warrantless surveillance programs that are unconstitutional? How have we *been* paying for the last 10 years for a Patriot Act that is largely unconstituional? How do we pay for the cost of detaining indefinitely without trial anyone the government says is a terrorist or associated with terrorists? How do we pay for lost productivity from employees who are chronically ill or who die from preventable diseases or manageable health conditions because they lack health insurance? How do we pay for the beefed-up law enforcement needed to deal with increased crime rates due to young people hanging out on the streets because there are no jobs and the interest rate on the student loan that was going to pay for them going to community college went up because penny-wise-and-pound-foolish legislators and their wealthy supporters refused to pass legislation to keep interest rates on student loans low because they wanted to know who would pay for it?

    (Note: don’t even bother responding to that question, as I have no doubt as to what your answer would be.)

    Ooops, forgot to respond to this. Sorry, too late.

  192. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    because no one in this discussion has declared themselves to be “entitled” to anything

    Really, Kathy? The entire core of your argument is that people, all people, are entitled to a certain level of housing and employment and healthcare and so on and so on, ad infinitum.

    Your entire rant here has essentially been “the world isn’t fair. I think that it should be fair, for everybody, and I think that the folks with money should be made to pay (and pay and pay …) whatever it takes in order to make it happen.”

    Anybody who deigns to oppose this fantasy or ask probing questions about it is, of course, cold and mean and racist.

    Please spare me. Your entire position here is founded on an enormous sense of entitlement.

  193. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    The entire core of your argument is that people, all people, are entitled to a certain level of housing and employment and healthcare and so on and so on, ad infinitum.

    Well, that’s true, although not ad infinitum. All people ARE entitled to adequate food, shelter, health care, education, and means to make a living.

    Would you say that all people are not entitled to political freedom? To free speech and the right to petition and assemble? Would you say that all people are not entitled to freely observe and practice their religion, or to not have any religious beliefs? Would you say that all people are not entitled to freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, without due process?

  194. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    LOL, short answer? We borrow the money, at a rate that couldn’t be offset by 100% taxation on the wealthy that you seem to despise so much, and have for decades.

    Helpful hint: we have a massively negative (and growing) trade imbalance, and have since the late 1960s. If you want to dig up the primary instigators of the growth in poverty and the decline of the middle class, you might want to start there.

    Instead of, you know, assuming that everything can be made right if we just tax those mean rich people to death.

  195. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Would you say that all people are not entitled to political freedom? To free speech and the right to petition and assemble? Would you say that all people are not entitled to freely observe and practice their religion, or to not have any religious beliefs? Would you say that all people are not entitled to freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, without due process?

    Sure.The constitution guarantees those things. I’m missing the part where it guarantees food, clothing, housing, healthcare, etc.

    But feel free to enlighten me.

  196. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I would say that without the Harvard lawyer’s efforts in college and law school, he would not be where he is.

    You missed the entire point of what I wrote, Slartibartfast. You’re begging the question of how and why HL92 got to Harvard Law School and whatever college came before that (probably Harvard as well) in the first place. I’m not saying he didn’t work hard, but there were other factors in play besides the hard work.

  197. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Instead of, you know, assuming that everything can be made right if we just tax those mean rich people to death.

    Actually, I think we should also cut military spending by at least 50%, and stop using private defense contractors to fight our wars and service our military.

  198. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’d be happy to. First, with regard to the Constitution, the Ninth Amendment reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Founders put this in precisely to guard against people like you who say, “That is not a right because it’s not in the Constitution so it doesn’t exist.”

    Conservatives are in love with the Tenth Amendment, but they conveniently ignore or forget about the one that comes immediately before it.

    Second, in addition to our own Constitution, food, medical treatment, adequate shelter, and education are all rights firmly established in international law. The U.S. seems to think highly of international law when demanding that other countries abide by it, so in the interest of setting a good example, we should abide by it, too. Or at least respect and acknowledge the existence of such rights, in principle, even if we haven’t found a way to ensure them, yet.

  199. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    @Slartibartfast:

    Kathy seems to consistently value her opinion of how reality should be over actual reality.

    Reality is not going to care about how you think it should look. It’s still going out wearing that shirt with those pants and (shudder) those shoes.

    If you think about it, Slartibartfast, that view of what reality is and isn’t is pretty silly. If actual reality did not reflect what human beings believe reality should be, then we’d all still be living in caves. When reality does not reflect what we feel reality should be, we change it. That’s what being human means, and it’s the only reason our country looks different now from what it did when the Founders wrote the Constitution. If reality were static and impossible to change, there’d still be slavery in this country. No law that’s ever been passed to change something that is, into something that currently isn’t, would have even been dreamed of.

  200. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    I’d be happy to. First, with regard to the Constitution, the Ninth Amendment reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Founders put this in precisely to guard against people like you who say, “That is not a right because it’s not in the Constitution so it doesn’t exist.

    Nobody is asserting that they aren’t “rights”, per se. Under your logic, one could assert that anything one wants is a “right”, from better support socks to bordellos.

    My point is that the Constitution doesn’t require government to actively acknowledge these “rights” as priorities deserving of statutory protection or subsidy from the Treasury.

    In other words, you can call them “rights” if you like. That’s your prerogative, but your doing so doesn’t mean that the state has a duty to acknowledge or fund it for you. It CAN do so, but it doesn’t HAVE to do so. It doesn’t get that option with the enumerated ones.

  201. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Note: I’m pretty much a conservative, and I’m not in love with the 10th Amendment. I know few people with any degree of training in the law who are, or who really give ti any thought at all. I think you have Conservatives confused with Separatists and States Rightsers. They worship the amendment because their flawed reading of it leads them to believe that they’ll one day undo Federalism, which is fantasy. The 10th Amendment is essentially meaningless, just as, to be frank, is the 9th.

    The 9th Amendment doesn’t create any federally enforceable rights. To cite Tribe, with whom I agree, it’s little more than a rule about how to read the Constitution.

    The 10th Amendment was knowingly constructed in such a way that it doesn’t amend the Necessary and Proper clause. In practical terms, that makes it pretty meaningless as well. Beyond barring the federal from compelling states to enforce federal statutes (at least directly, anyway), it doesn’t really serve any operative purpose at all.

  202. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    Under your logic, one could assert that anything one wants is a “right”, from better support socks to bordellos.

    You only beclown yourself by comparing things like food and shelter to support socks and bordellos.

    People have certain obligations to each other in a civilized society. I know you loathe the idea that a civilized society does not allow the people who live in it to remain hungry, homeless, sick, and uneducated if it wants to deserve to be called civilized, but that’s what I believe. I don’t believe that any society can be fully civilized if it either doesn’t guarantee these things, or recognize that it must do more to ensure that everyone has them. I certainly don’t believe that any democracy can remain healthy or even survive at all when significant portions of the people who live in it don’t know where their next meal is coming from or don’t have a roof over their heads; when huge numbers of its people, if they get sick or a family member gets sick, can do absolutely nothing about it because they don’t have the money to pay for medical care; when tens of millions of Americans are either functionally or completely illiterate. These conditions are simply incompatible with democracy — or at least with a healthy democracy.

    Here’s my bottom line. A job — employment, a way to make a living — is a fundamental right, whether it’s explicitly stated in the Constitution or not. It, among other fundamental rights, is essential to all the rights that *are* explicitly stated. Corporate profits, if made at the expense of worker safety and a fair wage, is not a fundamental right. No one has the right to make a profit at the expense of fundamental rights. Being wealthy is NOT a fundamental right. Certainly everyone has the right to try to make as much money as they can. But not at the expense of the law (honest work, iow), and NOT at the expense of others’ fundamental right to adequate food, shelter,health care, and education. What that comes down to is taxation, and putting priorities on spending. Income assistance and relief programs, affordable housing and health care, policies to give everyone the chance to get a higher education if they want one are spending priorities. Oil and gas subsidies are not. Wars — except under the rarest of circumstances, which have not actually existed since World War II — and a military budget that is bigger than the next seven countries combined, is not a spending priority. Tax cuts for the wealthy, or making permanent tax cuts which were supposed to be temporary, is not a spending priority. And if raising taxes is what’s needed, or part of what’s needed, to ensure and protect fundamental rights, then that should be done. And yes (and if your head has not exploded yet, it will now), wealthy individuals should pay more. Those who are most able to bear the cost should bear the cost. If you make more, you should pay higher taxes.

    There you are. I figured I should just stop pussyfooting around and state clearly what I believe. This is what I believe.

    I reckon that’ll be all for now.

  203. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I would say that without the Harvard lawyer’s efforts in college and law school, he would not be where he is.

    I tend to look askance at claims such at the one above, when unaccompanied by evidence.

  204. Slartibartfast says:

    If actual reality did not reflect what human beings believe reality should be, then we’d all still be living in caves. When reality does not reflect what we feel reality should be, we change it. That’s what being human means, and it’s the only reason our country looks different now from what it did when the Founders wrote the Constitution. If reality were static and impossible to change, there’d still be slavery in this country. No law that’s ever been passed to change something that is, into something that currently isn’t, would have even been dreamed of.

    That’s an interesting twisting of belief into reality. I actually don’t disagree with any of that, except for the part where you think that belief affects reality. Commitment affects reality; beliefs, not so much. If you wish and hope and believe and speak as if things are other than how they really are, that’s nearly textbook insanity. If you are committed to change, you need to clearly speak your vision in a way that doesn’t overtly confuse the way things are with the way you would like them to be.

    And it’s nearly a dead certainty, I say, that if you simply contradict people that you disagree with, call them wrong, contemptuously dismiss their points of view, and in general speak as if your vision of the future is correct and in fact the way things really are, then you are not going to effect the change you want, because you are going to alienate the very people whose agreement you need in order to get what you want.

    There’s always the possibility, too, that you’re not going to get what you want no matter how eloquent you are, because no matter what you do or say, not enough people are going to agree with you. That’s part of life in large groups; you can deal with it or not, as you choose. Because like the rest of reality: it doesn’t care.

  205. Slartibartfast says:

    I tend to look askance at claims such at the one above, when unaccompanied by evidence.

    That’s the kind of skepticism you would do well to cultivate. Especially when proofreading your own, confidently-asserted opinions. See, I threw that in there not because I am utterly convinced that it is true, but because I think it might be true. It’s empowering to think it’s true. It’s utterly disempowering to think and behave as if nothing you say or do has anything to do with your life outcomes.

    Which, come to think of it, connects rather well to my previous (08:34 June 28) comment. There’s a bit of contradiction at work in your reasoning that you might want to examine. See, you are simultaneously arguing that HarvardLaw92’s outcomes have not much to do with him, personally, while also arguing that reality bends itself to human desire. I say that those two ideas have some inherent amount of mutual annihilation. Either one can affect and take responsibility for outcomes, or one cannot.

    Of course we don’t succeed or fail in a vacuum. But also of course, what we do and how we do it has something to do with our success or failure. Our very points of view have something to do with our success or failure. Finally, I submit: it just might be that the very notion that our outcomes are more due to circumstance than to our own individual efforts might just have some negative effect on outcomes.

  206. Michael Mainello says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: There you are. I figured I should just stop pussyfooting around and state clearly what I believe. This is what I believe.

    You have clearly stated what you believe throughout your writings. You believe the wealthy dominate the poor. You believe most people are helpless and need government assistance to mitigate their problems. You believe rich people were lucky or cheated to obtain their success. You believe only government can ensure fairness and that the average person is too stupid achieve anything.

    It is the typical liberal view on society.

    May God not allow you to achieve your dream of universal misery or as you call it “social justice”. It has never worked and will not work in the future.

    America is a great country because people help each other, personal responsibility is expected, and hard work used to be normal and expected even when times were hard.

  207. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    You only beclown yourself by comparing things like food and shelter to support socks and bordellos.

    No, I’m just trying to make the point that ANYTHING you or anyone else wants can be considered, at least by you or them, to be a right. That doesn’t make it an enforceable right.

    People have certain obligations to each other in a civilized society.

    In your opinion. I don’t disagree, but don’t confuse pronouncements of your opinions to be pronouncements of fact.

    A job — employment, a way to make a living — is a fundamental right, whether it’s explicitly stated in the Constitution or not

    Again, in your opinion. I don’t disagree, but …

    It, among other fundamental rights, is essential to all the rights that *are* explicitly stated.

    Really? Having a job is essential to being able to speak? To practice a religious belief?

    You are confusing “Kathy believes that this is the way that it should be” with “The Constitution specifies that this is the way that it should be”. That conflation is specious.

    You didn’t need to go to such lengths to delineate your beliefs. They’ve been clear from the outset – you believe that a certain floor, determined solely by your opinion of what constitutes fair, with regard to standard of living should be a guaranteed minimum, for everyone, regardless of ability or effort (or, more pointedly, lack thereof).

    In other words, you want equality of outcome, and you are prepared to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to obtain it. I tend to prefer equality of opportunity, which people are then free to utilize or squander as they choose, with the consequences of those choices being theirs alone to bear.

  208. Kathy Kattenburg says:

    I’m just trying to make the point that ANYTHING you or anyone else wants can be considered, at least by you or them, to be a right.

    The reasonable person would agree that support socks and bordellos are not rights inherent to being human. The reasonable person would be able to distinguish clearly, between something that is essential, either to life at all, as food, or to basic quality of life, like employment and housing and health care, and something that is not in any way or by the farthest stretches of imagination essential to life, like support socks and bordellos.

    This should be obvious, and you should feel foolish at best for comparing support socks to food or health or employment as what could reasonably be considered a right. If you asked 100 random people on the street which could be considered a right, even if it is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, food and shelter or support socks and bordellos, I think you know what they would say. So stop acting like an idiot. Or don’t, as you prefer.

    I don’t disagree, but don’t confuse pronouncements of your opinions to be pronouncements of fact.

    Demonstrate to me that you have accompanied every single statement of belief in this thread with “in my opinion.” *This* is specious — even more so given that I sprinkled the words “I believe,” liberally (pun intended) throughout that comment. I didn’t specifically include such wording in one place and you infer that I’m claiming an opinion as fact? Please. I know lawyers are argumentative by nature, but this is absurd.

    Really? Having a job is essential to being able to speak? To practice a religious belief?

    Okay, that was overstated. Point taken.

    … you believe that a certain floor,….

    Yes.

    determined solely by your opinion of what constitutes fair,

    No.

    with regard to standard of living should be a guaranteed minimum, for everyone,

    Yes.

    … regardless of ability

    Yes.

    or effort (or, more pointedly, lack thereof).

    Can’t answer yes or no the way this is expressed, because the way it’s expressed is misleading. I have lived long enough to know that the overwhelming majority of people do make an effort to make their lives better. If their effort doesn’t seem strong enough to someone on the outside who doesn’t know anything about them, or if they appear to be making no effort at all, to someone on the outside who doesn’t know anything about them, that judgment is almost always inaccurate and unjustified. There are an infinite number of reasons why any given person might appear to be lazy or not making an effort — most if not all of which you have no way of knowing. You want to hear a few? Okay. Lack of confidence (to varying degrees, sometimes crippling), a conviction based on observation and/or experience that effort doesn’t seem to make a difference (which may be wrong but it’s not the same as lazy — it’s giving up out of discouragement, and there are reasons people do that), a physical condition that is not obvious to the eye, depression (ranging from situational and temporary to clinical and intractable), other forms of mental illness, not always immediately apparent, and there are zillions of combinations of any of these, and others I can’t even imagine on the spur of the moment. To be human is to make an effort. From the moment of birth, to be human is to try. You have no way of knowing how much effort anyone has put into solving their problems. Even if you think you do. Unless it’s your own brother, or your mother, and/or you’ve known them all your life and seen them every day — and even then you can’t know for certain. I would bet all my books (over a thousand) that you have not had any of the life experience that would have taught you this — AND I HAVE.

    In other words, you want equality of outcome,

    No. My outcome as I sit here typing this is not at all equal to yours, and it’s fine with me because I have a roof over my head and food on my table when I’m hungry.

    and you are prepared to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to obtain it.

    We live under a government of our choosing. Governments tax and spend to carry out priorities. That’s what governments do. Any time the government taxes or spends on anything, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. Choices have to be made. In your book, it’s only robbing Peter to pay Paul if your taxes are spent on health care for all, or on food stamps, or on welfare. In your book, it’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul at all when my food stamp allotment or someone else’s Medicaid benefits are spent to give you a permanent tax cut that you don’t need. Well,you know what? You are wrong. In my opinion, of course.

    I tend to prefer equality of opportunity, which people are then free to utilize or squander as they choose….

    Equality of opportunity is a myth. All Americans do not all have the same opportunity to achieve the same outcomes. Mitt Romney’s opportunities were guaranteed from the day he was born. There was no question. He didn’t even have to try. If he just stood still, all his opportunities would come his way. If you’re going to tell me that the children that Jonathan Kozol writes about in Amazing Grace or Death At an Early Age or Savage Inequalities have the same opportunity to go to Cranbrook School or Harvard and become multimillion-dollar venture capitalists, then I’m going to laugh in your face.

    … with the consequences of those choices being theirs alone to bear.

    No. You’re dead wrong about that. The consequences of poverty, homelessness, lack of health care, functional illiteracy, people being foreclosed on, going bankrupt because of medical bills, not having enough food to eat, dropping out of school or never going to school at all, etc., etc., etc. are not theirs alone to bear. You bear those costs as well, as do I and every other American. It’s amazing to me that smart people, and a tax litigator has to be smart, can be so dumb and so blind and so short-sighted about the price THEY pay for all these social ills.