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12 July 2012

Comments

THEMIKEYMCD

George = Preacher
Me = Choir

Imagine the outcry from the lefties if Goldman Sachs, Exxon, or Walmart pulled a scam as heinous as the public sector pension Ponzi Scheme. #doublestandard #hypocrisy

Getting politicians to 'do nothing' or 'just say no' is an impossibility.

Don't get me started on 'tax fairness'

TomKenworth

First off, this is Greg's nemesis, using an old sock, as I am tired of the amount of time waste relogging into Wordpress each time, and am going to wean real name from the Internet over the next couple of years, as govmint and BigCorps are just getting too damn nosy and powerful. This is the one and only time I will identify as such. This is by no means a perfect solution, but at least it will make it harder for them to zero in on me, should they happen to cross the line, or their successors (China?).

If the economy hadn't been set up to tank by the banks and corps sending jobs overseas, and the American workers too dumb to realize that they were Walmarting themselves to suicide, the pensions would have been just fine.

TomKenworth

I thought that Crabb's Barfly cartoon expressed the social media situation perfectly, which is why I used it, so small no copyright issues. Go to www.RLCrabb to see it full sized and get my point.

George Rebane

TomKenworth 958pm - you have us confused. Are you then DougK or BenE or?

Todd Juvinall

MichaelA I think. He said he was Greg's nemesis.

The pension agreements need to be redone. When I was a Supervisor, I always voted in secret session (I urged it to be in open session but always lost) against the stuff that is now biting America on the ass. I saw the unsustainable path in 1985 and yet I was unable to convince others. I am sorry to say I failed in that regard.

What the problem has been up to now is what was done by every jurisdiction in America for many years. When one city or county or special district got a WOW contract for the employees that contract was then used in "studies" of surrounding counties to show that all the others are doing it so we should too (think cancer). I saw this in employee wage studies as well. Hell Placer County is paying X so should we! And those things passed!

We have institutionalized bad math and bad policy for the country. In California we doubled down at the state level and shoved thousands more mandates on everything from raw milk to dropped combs in the hairdresser shop. The boxes must be blown up and a new start begun.

One thing I have seen over the years regarding taxes in our state is the willingness of local cities and counties to pass increases in sales taxes and school bonds In June 2012, in Ballotpedia (http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/June_5,_2012) _ballot_measures_in_California you can see how many increased their taxes. All this does though is allow more money to be withheld by the state for the original purposes and creates the back fill with the local tax increase. I think many Californians must be just plain ass stupid to do this, but hey, it is California.

TomKenworth

DougK

Todd, People are not always willing to pass stuff. For example, the good folks in Placer failed to pass: A Placer Hills Fire Protection District Parcel Tax, Measure E ballot measure was on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in the Placer Hills Fire Protection District in Placer County.

According to the official description of Measure E, "If passed, the tax would be levied on improved parcels with an assessed valuation of $10,000 or more. The exact amount of this special tax would be variable based on the type and number of residences/commercial buildings on a parcel, as set forth in the District’s Resolution 2012-01A. The tax also allows for annual price adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index, or 3%, whichever is less."

It was estimated that the amount of the tax in its first year would have been $79/parcel.

A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for passage.
Election results
Placer Hills Fire Protection District Parcel Tax
Result Votes Percentage
Defeated No 1,071 47.1%
Yes 1,203 52.09%

They were SO SMART not to pass that tax. I wonder how instrumental the great and powerful Tea Party was in keeping this from getting passed? I wonder if any of the homes that may be burnt to the ground belong to "No" voters? BTW, if any of you have a swimming pool, and no high powered pump and hoses, and a fire is approaching, give me a call. I have all the gear and it seems a shame just to hoard it for myself, in the event of an emergency, assuming your place is at least a couple of miles from mine.

Todd Juvinall

My Ballotpedia link doesn't work to get to the listing but if you begin at the California link on their map follow the local ballot measures and you will come upon a county list with city sub lists of local measures from June 5, 2012. You can go to any election as well from the past few elections. What you will see is many tax measures winning. Mostly in the liberal counties ( if that a too their credit I will let you decide). Many bonds and many local increases to their sales tax.

Ben Emery

I can't resist, here is how the income tax system should break down. Excerpt from your favorite economics professor and former labor secretary. I know he doesn't understand economics, right?

The Obama Budget: And Why the Coming Debate Over Spending Cuts Has Nothing to Do With Reviving the Economy

Sunday, February 13, 201

"Don’t cut the government services they rely on – college loans, home heating oil, community services, and the rest. State and local budget cuts are already causing enough pain.

The most direct way to get more money into their pockets is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (a wage subsidy) all the way up through people earning $50,000, and reduce their income taxes to zero. Taxes on incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 should be cut to 10 percent; between $90,000 and $150,000 to 20 percent; between $150,000 and $250,000 to 30 percent.

And exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes.

Make up the revenues by increasing taxes on incomes between $250,000 to $500,000 to 40 percent; between $500,000 and $5 million, to 50 percent; between $5 million and $15 million, to 60 percent; and anything over $15 million, to 70 percent.

And raise the ceiling on the portion of income subject to payroll taxes to $500,000.

It’s called progressive taxation.

The lion’s share of America’s income and wealth is at the top. Taxing the very rich won’t hurt the economy. They spend a much smaller portion of their incomes than everyone else."
http://robertreich.org/post/3277360050

George Rebane

BenE 1111pm - Reich did the predictable in his piece. He assumed the perennial static model of progressives - i.e. the rich sit back and quietly accept the tax increases calculated by the liberal accountants (the California idiots have been using this approach for years) - and even then Reich did not show how the new tax rates on the rich would make up for total government revenues. However, the words sounded very progressive and politically correct to appropriately impress his kind of audiences.

THEMIKEYMCD

Ben Emiery you are a hateful man if you cannot see the discrimination/anger/jealousy/immorality of a progressive tax system.

To accept a notion that taxing 'the rich' (one class of people) won't hurt the economy while taxing another class a people will is idiotic. We are all human, let's accept that.

Are progressives blind to the fact that when 'the rich' retain their earnings they are able to hire more? Invest more? spend more? save more which banks then lend? or is the hate shielding such truths?

Why do progressive hate to the point of using government FORCE on fellow humans?

Michael Anderson

Mikey, there's a lot less hate than you think. Mostly it's fear.

George, I liked your post. While I believe that revenue is a missing side of the equation when pension reform becomes the only focus, I agree with you that there is no way that a public employee should be able to retire at age ~50 and receive a salary that is close to what she took home at the top of her game.

I don't happen to believe there will be a cascade of new muni bankruptcies here, but George's is still an appropriately cautionary tale. Even if only 3% of the local gov't municipalities in the US were to fail, it would be a monumental economic hurdle to overcome.

Here's an idea, let's deal with the realities of what is war and how we sacrifice for our nation: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/opinion/lets-draft-our-kids.html?_r=1&hp


Michael Anderson

Whoops, I left out why the above comment was relevant to George's post.

In favor of a new draft, the list is growing.


====================================================

"The savings actually might be a way of bringing around the unions representing federal, state and municipal workers, because they understand that there is a huge budget crunch that is going to hit the federal government in a few years. Setting up a new non-career tier of cheap, young labor might be a way of preserving existing jobs for older, more skilled, less mobile union workers."

TomKenworth

The last ten years prove that the rich do NOT hire more (except maybe overseas), invest more, or spend more, with lower taxes. Trickle down? Ha, Only if you are thinking urinal stalls.

Ben Emery

Mickey,
We should pay for what we use, correct. Those who make more money generally use more of the infrastructure and should pay for it. Why is that hateful? Roads, educated work force, police/ fire, water, judicial system, military ect... are all part of the common infrastructure. I live in the United States of America and pay/ give back my fair share to keep it the best nation on the planet. It seems you only think in terms of what Mickey wants and ignore your responsibility to continue what those who came before us invested so much in so we could have a high standard of living in a developed nation.

George Rebane

BenE 705am - Could you please point us to the data proving that the 'rich' have not hired more in the last decade? Most certainly the poor have not hired more. Recall also that we are in an economic downturn and in the pre-Singularity years during which non-competitive labor is rapidly being replaced by technology. And to the degree that government friction (laws, regulations, added taxes, fees, ...) grows, employers will go to labor markets with less friction.

Bottom line, it's American industry that is seeking to avoid costs, the 'rich' are hiring, consuming luxury goods, eating out, entertaining themselves, sending their kids to schools, etc as much as ever, and thereby providing jobs that cannot be exported.

Russ Steele

What? Ben writes: “Those who make more money generally use more of the infrastructure and should pay for it.” I am having a hard time getting my head around that statement. The rich use more of the highway than long haul truckers? The rich use more water washing their teeth than I do. The rich carp more than I do? The rich use more bandwidth than game playing teens? The rich’s houses burn more often than poor peoples houses. The rich call the police more than old people living in a gang banger neighborhood? Really?

Ben, please help me out here. What infrastructure are the rich using more than the other folks?

Todd Juvinall

I was reported today that San Berdo's pension demands 35% of the entire budget of the city.

Also, that of the 4500 cities and towns etc in America, 20% could be in the same boat. I think it is more.

THEMIKEYMCD

Russ, there are zero facts to support BenEmeries claim. FACTS: lower and middle class use more public education than 'the rich' (recall that education is approx 50% of state budgets alone), they obviously use more State funded healthcare, State Funded housing programs, etc. The problem is that they don't pay an equitable (any?) taxes to support such programs (see Rebane's table above).

Progressives talk about 'equality' when passing out the goods... they go impotent on 'equality' when the bill comes.

To believe that 'the rich' don't do anything with their wealth (hire, invest, save, spend) is irrational/idiotic... what else could 'the rich' do with their money? [If this was a sarcastic thought by TomK I appologize].

Trust me (and any married man I know) that if I were 'rich' my wife would help the economy!

THEMIKEYMCD

Should SS be mandatory or voluntary?

Should employERS be required to 'enforce' SS deductions from paychecks?

Should taxes be assessed in an equitable manner (flat versus progressive)?

Should employERS be required to act as the tax collector for the IRS and State taxing authority?

Should a 'central bank' be responsible for the 'setting of interest rates' or should the market set rates?

Should a government be permitted to print unlimited amounts of money AND disallow its citizens to use their own forms of money (silver/gold)?

Should the government be in the 'business' of philanthropy?

If you limit the power of government don't you also limit the power of special interests/corporations vying to buy special treatment from said government?

Should an employER lose his individual rights when he hires an employee?

What laws are you willing to send a father of 4 to prison for ignoring?

Should pseudo agencies like CARB (state), Department of Energy (fed/state), Department of Education (state/fed) be given the right to enforcement powers (detain/arrest/carry guns)?


TomKenworth

The rich use the REST of US as part of their infrastructure in which to get rich. The REST of US don't, and so everything in that infrastructure that makes us "useful fools" is to the benefit of the rich alone, as demonstrated by the fact that they are rich. They can pay for it. Here's your lefty twisted logic moment of the day, from your perspective, Russ.

David King

"The rich use the REST of US as part of their infrastructure in which to get rich."


They should leave us alone so we can be poor and happy. Rich bastards!

I just want to be a fire truck! Ding ding ding.

Ben Emery

Mickey,
You seem to be a bit unhinged lately. I will try and answer your questions with brevity.

Should SS be mandatory or voluntary?
Mandatory- we all benefit as a society because the program is in place. It is only theft if the money was illegal kept from you when your time to collect comes.

Should employERS be required to 'enforce' SS deductions from paychecks?
Yes, if we want a sustainable system then all must pay into it.

Should taxes be assessed in an equitable manner (flat versus progressive)?
If we are talking income taxes No, taxes should be assessed by ability to pay and level of usage of infrastructure. (progressive).

Should employERS be required to act as the tax collector for the IRS and State taxing authority?
Once again, if we want taxes to be collected from all Americans the most efficient way of doing it at the source of income. Very few if any people who earn a paycheck have offshore tax havens and bank accounts in Switzerland. But as we see from those who make their money gambling in the financial sector and who are taxed at a much lower rate (15%)for their income do take their income and hide it, therefore not paying their fair share of the cost to maintain the American infrastructure.

Should a 'central bank' be responsible for the 'setting of interest rates' or should the market set rates?
I don't believe in our form of a central bank a.k.a. The Federal Reserve. Very broad question to a very detailed issue. I believe in simple interest, interest on principal only.

Should a government be permitted to print unlimited amounts of money AND disallow its citizens to use their own forms of money (silver/gold)?
Money supply should be controlled through the US Treasury and the measure of money supply should be equal to goods and services of our nation.

Should the government be in the 'business' of philanthropy?
Depends on what you are talking about. If you mean giving nations billions of dollars with the intent for that money to be spent by buying US made military weaponry, then no I don't. If you mean helping third world countries digging wells so they can have clean drinking water at the same time build good relations with the people of that nation, yes I can see it being a good thing. For the record the US has one of the worst % of international aid per income of the nation. http://www.poverty.com/internationalaid.html

If you limit the power of government don't you also limit the power of special interests/corporations vying to buy special treatment from said government?
Not necessarily. Governments despite their level of involvement in day to day lives become corrupt. Once again I will give you examples of third world countries where there is little government services but those who sit at the top of government are the wealthiest of the citizens from collecting bribes. What you get is a very small elite group securing their personal wealth.

The last three are nonsense and I don't know what you are talking about.
Should an employER lose his individual rights when he hires an employee?


What laws are you willing to send a father of 4 to prison for ignoring?

Should pseudo agencies like CARB (state), Department of Energy (fed/state), Department of Education (state/fed) be given the right to enforcement powers (detain/arrest/carry guns)?


Michael Anderson

>Should SS be mandatory or voluntary?

Mandatory.

>Should employERS be required to 'enforce' SS deductions from paychecks?

Yes, unless you can come up w/ a better way to fund SS (I'm not a big fan of employers/business being unpaid tax collectors).

>Should taxes be assessed in an equitable manner (flat versus progressive)?

No.

>Should employERS be required to act as the tax collector for the IRS and State taxing authority?

Yes, unless a better way can be found.

>Should a 'central bank' be responsible for the 'setting of interest rates' or should the market set rates?

Central bank.

>Should a government be permitted to print unlimited amounts of money AND disallow its citizens to use their own forms of money (silver/gold)?

Yes to printing money. No to disallowing citizens from using silver/gold.

>Should the government be in the 'business' of philanthropy?

Yes.

>If you limit the power of government don't you also limit the power of special interests/corporations vying to buy special treatment from said government?

Not necessarily.

>Should an employER lose his individual rights when he hires an employee?

Question is rhetorical and biased, not answerable.

>What laws are you willing to send a father of 4 to prison for ignoring?

Question is rhetorical and biased, not answerable.

>Should pseudo agencies like CARB (state), Department of Energy (fed/state), Department of Education (state/fed) be given the right to enforcement
>powers (detain/arrest/carry guns)?

Question is rhetorical and biased, not answerable.

THEMIKEYMCD

Scary Ben, very scary.

Ben Emery

Mickey,
I will add one more on the SS questions. All income should be taxed for FICA (long term capital gains exempt 7years or longer) and remove the $106,800 cap in place now. If we did so the overall % could drop benefiting a vast majority of Americans stimulating the economy while increasing revenue and benefits of the program.

THEMIKEYMCD

Scary Michael Anderson, very scary. Thank you (and Ben) for being honest.

Todd Juvinall

One thing abut BenE I admire. He never ventures outside the tax and spend box. What a consistent fellow.

Michael Anderson

Mikey dramatically opined: "Scary Michael Anderson, very scary."

Mikey, you have a very, very steep hill ahead of you. I'll bet a whopping majority of mainstream Republicans and Democrats would answer these questions just like I did. That means you are in the extreme minority, and have little or no chance of your ideals being implemented in the USA in the 21st century. Now what?

George Rebane

General observations – BenE’s 705am claim appeared to me so false on its face that it was difficult to stop sputtering sufficiently to reply. RussS’ 805am and Mikey’s 840am cover it sufficiently. TomKenworth’s 856am response is the classical communist narrative – the rich are only rich because they have downtrodden the rest of us; we are the infrastructure that the rich consume in order for them to become rich.

Question for MichaelA – what is the common ground between the two ideologies so different as that described above with that of the market capitalism that conservaterians like me believe is the organizing (economic and social) basis for the greatest human advancement ever?

Ben Emery

Michael,
That is point I make all the time at public forums, the positions I hold are almost always with the majority of Americans. Yet on RR I am considered scary.

Todd,
Being a pure partisan that twists himself into pretzels to defend hypocrisy of the party must be tiring. The republicans going back to the reagan era have been tax cut and spend, which has landed us in the problem we find ourselves today. You can call me fiscally responsible, its ok. I would have voted against both the Bush invasions/ occupations, Medicare Part D, Patriot Act, FISA Act, much of the Department of Homeland Security, Bank Bailouts, and tax cuts for the wealthy. If we eliminate these costs we do not have a debt problem.
http://reaganbushdebt.org/

Ben Emery

George,
Your questions seemed a bit off topic from the cited comment, so I didn't answer. I would argue the poor do hire more than the rich on a couple of positions.

1) It is small business's that hire a majority of employee's in this country. Very few of them are rich. (most people who start a small business go into debt to start it, talking in just numbers being in the red is being poor)

2) The only reason to hire is because their is a demand for a service or product. Since the wealthy already have more than enough money to spend and only a fraction of their income goes back into the functional/ productive economy it is up to the rest of us to stimulate the economy. Middle Class, Lower Middle Class, and the poor generally spend 100% of their income back into the functional/ productive economy.

If I owned a dollar store I would want 100 people with a $1 to spend rather than 5 people with $20 but will only spend $5 each. Right now the private sector (financial sector) is sitting on roughly $3 trillion and not circulating it through the economy.

TomKenworth

Nope, the rich are not rich because they have downtrodden the rest of us, they are rich because the rest of us build the bridges with our taxes so that we can get to and from our jobs for the rich, and so the rich can then also move their goods to market. Without the rest of us, the rich would not last very long at all. Not enough of them to both make the money, even overseas, and also maintain the USA as a comfy place to live. For the rich to now decide that we are all expendable, replacable with imported laborers, is simply not the American way, and I guess they will have to learn it the hard way, possibly losing the USA in the process, and maybe even the planet, once the oceans tip. Remember the Cuyahoga River? Fixing the oceans will be many, many, magnitudes a greater problem.

Todd Juvinall

BenE, we read your stuff all over the place. You are a prolific writer in length and consistent in philosophy. You are truly politically scary. You and MichaelA are the philosophy in power at this time across America and it is wrecking the place. You live in the past a lot as well. Try to look at the future of America and stop whining about Bush. Jeese!

THEMIKEYMCD

"Now what?" Posted by: Michael Anderson | 13 July 2012 at 12:40 PM

Try to make as little money as possible so I am not seen as 'enemy #1.'

Fight my natural propensity to create, produce, solve, invent, serve, improve the world.

Bring my children up to believe that all humans are worthy of love (regardless of social standing/wealth, skin color, etc).

Protect myself and my family from those who will use FORCE upon us for their envy based agenda.

Vote for liberty; even if it is a 'lost vote' (Ron Paul).

Dwell on the fact that just because a system exists or because a mob votes for a morally/financially bankrupt system doesn't make it right.

Live a life where I do no harm, despite the harm done to me by others.

George Rebane

BenE 112pm - Hard to follow you here. You socialists are now enlisting the small business owner into the ranks of the poor? I was going to laugh that one out of the park, because of all the small business owners I have known, including myself, who have risked so much, yet never thinking ourselves poor but only privileged in the process - and then I contemplate MichaelA who is a small business owner, and who seems to think more like you than like me.

Ben Emery

Russ,
I have to take it at your word that you don't understand how the wealthy use the infrastructure more than the average person. The other thing I have to assume is you don't understand when almost all people talk about the wealthy they are talking about the mega wealthy not people who are making $500k a year. We are talking about people who bring home tens of millions annually. The wealthiest 400 people/ families in a America have more wealth than the bottom 50%. The top 1% has more than the bottom 90%.


Let me explain this simple concept. Lets take WalMart. Walmart hires 1.2 million Americans. My guess at least 1 million of those went to public schools to learn how to read, write, arithmetic- Walmart uses the education infrastructure big time. The roads, stop lights/ signs, and police are used by every single person who either brings, sells, or purchases goods from Walmart- Walmart uses the road infrastructure big time. There a number more but you get the picture by now I hope. OK I will give one more example. The US Judicial System is another biggie for large corporations using the common infrastructure, which leads me to The Walton heirs (born into money)have more wealth than the bottom 30% of American's. They make money off of the infrastructure that is in place but don't want to contribute to continue that infrastructure. In fact the fund to the tune of millions to reduce their taxes and am sure they have many offshore tax accounts.

Ben Emery

George,
I consider myself solidly in the middle class and have lived a comfortable lifestyle but a vast majority of my adult life has been in or just above the poverty line for income. I have been self employed and a business owner as well. My goal has always been earn a living not take a killing.

Ben Emery

Not exactly Rockefellers.
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/average-income-small-business-owners-5189.html


Average Income by Experience

According to compensation survey administrator PayScale in 2010, the average income of small business owners varies widely depending upon their level of experience. For example, small business owners with less than one year of experience in running an organization earn an annual salary ranging from $34,392 to $75,076. Those with more than 10 years experience, on the other hand, earn upwards of $105,757 per year.

George Rebane

BenE 358pm - What about the table in this post is confusing? Are there some limits to taxing a person, or how much income a person should be allowed to earn that you care to share from your class-imbued ideology? What level of income confiscation do you consider sufficient?

THEMIKEYMCD

The issue of confiscating private property (wealth) is no different than any other moral issue.

As Rebane's 4:05pm comment suggests... to discriminate on some subjective basis is not right/moral.

Like forcing only the devoutly jewish into the railcar and letting the 'less' jewish off the hook.

Or like allowing segregation of very dark complected African Americans while not allowing segregation of the lighter toned African Americans.

Do you at least see that the wealthy (Obama's scale is above $250k) feel hated/targeted/subhuman?

TomKenworth

Every corporation out there "targets" various demographics (classes if you will) from whom to harvest cash. What's the matter, can't take it when the tables are turned? Target sources of cash is only allowed for the rich? How naive! Welcome to dog eat dog Darwinian capitalism and government. If it is not immoral to drive a recent widow from her home via continuing foreclosure actions while pretending to renegotiate loans (recently outlawed in California, thank-you Jerry Brown & Company), then surely it is not immoral to demand progressive taxation, and taxes on all stock trades. That Bull on Wall Street is not a Sacred Cow, and neither are the people it stands for.

TomKenworth

The rich discovered vicious and immoral ages ago, now the remains of the middle class and poor are beginning to adapt the same "code of dishonour."

George Rebane

TomKenworth 725pm - How will the world work when the "remains of the middle class" win?

TomKenworth

GR 8:59 Important stuff, like food shelter and medicine and education, especially in regards birth control, and individualized mass transit, will be the focus. Protecting American multinat interests overseas will be a low priority. And BTW, ultimately that is a win-win for even the top.

George Rebane

TomKenworth 935pm - who will be doing all this work, why, and for what reward? And why aren't they doing it already?

TomKenworth

BTW, those at the top are not supermen, minutely calculating the moves needed by the millions under them. They are ordinary but talented people, and typically have close contact with subordinates, probably not more than a typical classroom teacher has students, and those subordinates in turn have their subordinates, and so on. Dimon of Chase didn't personally go out and lose 5.8 billion. Subordinates of a subordinate went out there and did it for him, most likely they depended on yet another lower level or two for the data for the decisions that they made.

So why the hell should the top most guy, and those under him get many many millions? Well you see it is sort of like the Unions, expecting to get paid about the same as everyone else doing the same job. Except here money causes people to walk, and at some point the whole scheme has gone totally out of control, when the ratio between the CEO's salary and those beneath him begin to creep above 1000 to one. basically, the egos of those at the top are now psychotic in their needs to be numero uno, Ichiban, top dog of the money piles, Scrooge McDuck, etc, and yet they've convinced a portion of the rest of the world that they are normal and sane. 5 to 7 houses makes you wealthy, according to McCain. One good house, a nearby vacation home, and money for yearly trips anywhere in the world would probably be considered by both sane people in Nevada County as being wealthy, BUT ONLY, if you have lots of good friends and a loving family.

Michael Anderson

[Deleted.]

The muni BKs are due to a combo of decreased revenue and increased cost (one aspect being public employee pensions). Blaming the BKs on just one of those things is simplistic.

George Rebane

MichaelA 947am - let me champion the "simplistic" side of this debate, since Mike McDaniel and I took it back in 2007. The foretold bankruptcies of counties, municipalities, and other pension paying jurisdictions was already inevitable then, and had nothing to do with the recent losses of revenues. The public service pensions were and are unsustainable, the only factor that the (also predictable) recession added to the mix was that the time table to bankruptcies was shortened.

In this vein let me add that, given the hubris shown by the electeds (including in Nevada County) back in 2007, if the recession had not occurred or the revenue losses had not been as big, then the jurisdictions would have remained in la-la land and continued to pile on unfunded liabilities as many of them actually did and some do to this day. I'm afraid in this case Occam's mighty razor has cut right through to the simplest of all explanations for the growing avalanche of bankruptcies. The rest of it is diversionary progressive bullshit.

Todd Juvinall

It is usually the simplest answer and it truly is overspending. The reason politicians are now finally being exposed for all the largesse is they are toast at the local level regardless. Bad management (no cops, potholes galore)and/or bad contracts. Take your pick. I must say though that Nevada County has tried to maintain a "rainy day fund" since the early 80's when the County saved its 'revenue sharing" money started in the Nixon years.

California may be the state that actually fails to change though. With the vote on the bullet train to nowhere, the destruction by the state of our higher education system and the disregard for the infrastructure, smothering rules and regulations and the hegemony of the liberals in Sacramento, our Golden State is a lead ball.

TomKenworth

One place we've certainly over spent on is the military and absolutely the War on Drugs. Money down megaratholes.

Michael Anderson

George, very nicely pruned. I like your garden.

I'll try to answer your above from 7/13/2012 12:56 pm shortly...

Gregory

George, you missed the self aggrandizing ad hominem of 12 July 2012 at 09:58 AM. Pest, not Nemesis.

"Tom" once again misses an essential point of salaries and compensation in private employment... companies can and do go out of business. Name a failing California school district that has been dissolved. A failed county? None? And we're only up to three California cities opting for adult supervision to date.

The pension plague, like the union contract plagues, is something that either has to be negotiated away, or wiped clean by a bankruptcy with CalPERS/STRS having to make do with fairly distributing what they have to their stakeholders. We can't just decide to give pensioners what is left over in a haphazard fashion. Then there's the problem that it isn't an issue of keeping property tax revenues in the county... that battle was lost long ago.

TomKenworth

The "defend multinat interests overseas" plague is draining too many resources from the economic sectors which support the public infrastructures. It is morally, ethically and intellectually dishonest to attempt to blame the public infrastructures for the lack of dollars to pay for them. Those who voted for wars (three of them in the last ten years, two ongoing today) and the banks are responsible for the empty pension banks and wallets of the average American. The pests that carry this plague are running amuck, as evidenced by their presence on this blogs and elsewhere. Somebody's crop dusting plane is sputtering and ready to crash.

Todd Juvinall

TK said "It is morally, ethically and intellectually dishonest to attempt to blame the public infrastructures for the lack of dollars to pay for them." in his 808 comment.

I couldn't agree more. Americans pay billions and trillions in taxes designated for infrastructure and it gets swiped by the democrats to balance their budgets. California is a prime example of that. We even pay a tax on the tax when we buy fuel. Then their is the Davis-Bacon Act and environmental studies and then out and out waste. One plant moved in San Francisco cost 250K! It was not really endangered but the eco freaks wanted to save it. Imagine how many potholes could be filled with 250K? No TK, it is not that we don't pay enough it is the democrat waste machine that is stealing your hard earned (if you do) money.

Regarding overseas. Please explain to us if the European countries going BK are the the result of their overseas issues as you said America is. Inquiring minds want to know.

Ben Emery

The bankruptcies are a symptom of a deregulated out of control international banking/ financial industry that operate on fractional reserves (money from nothing), compound interest, credit default swaps, and a quadrillion dollar derivative market.
Here are some good starts on trying to understand what is going on.

The Great American Bubble Machine
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

HOW BROKERS BECAME BOOKIES: THE INSIDIOUS TRANSFORMATION OF MARKETS INTO CASINOS
http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/brokers_bookies.php

Todd Juvinall

Yep, those city and county officials bankrolled and elected by the unions who then negotiated those union contracts are tools of the big bankers. My God man, are you on earth?

George Rebane

Memo to file: We're still looking for a shred of common ground from which to rebuild a nation.

Ben Emery

George,
You like the way the financial and banking industries are working? My guess is you don't and that is a common ground.

TomKenworth

"shred of common ground from which to rebuild a nation."

Make sure as many people as possible are as high functioning as possible, and less ptu downs of "the little people.".

George Rebane

BenE's 1259pm understood the question, and offered a plausible answer that may or not be a sufficient basis for progress. TomKenworth's 127pm offered a prescription and an admonition for something unknown. It did not address the 'common ground' question.

THEMIKEYMCD

George, maybe as a prerequisite of commenting on RR commentators should be required to read the 'oath' of the Bastiat Triangle Alliance (or at a minimum The Law by F.Bastiat)?

I am afraid to ask.... What doe progressives think of 'personal property' or 'private property'?

THEMIKEYMCD

I would suggest that 99% of Americans agree that a central bank is a bad concept (save M. Anderson as the 1%).

George Rebane

MickeyMcD 712pm - The intellectually curious progressives will already have read 'The Law' and the definition of the Bastiat Triangle. The others, well ...

An excellent question about private property. From a lifetime of intimate contact with progressive thought, my conclusion is that progressives believe that all property belongs to the state (the collective). Various pieces of it are given into the temporary care of pre-enlightened individuals in order to motivate them to work and thereby be able to remit tribute to the state.

But in the final analysis, no progressive can ever tell you what part of your private property will remain yours and your progeny's in perpetuum. Why? Because they believe that all of it must ultimately revert to its rightful owner, the collective, either through your enlightenment or through your elimination.

Michael Anderson

Mikey melodramatically, and incorrectly, suggested: "I would suggest that 99% of Americans agree that a central bank is a bad concept (save M. Anderson as the 1%)."

First of all, let's deconstruct "bad concept." A central bank is no good under any circumstances, according to Mikey. I would suggest otherwise.

While I am completely unhappy with the present implementation of a central bank in the USA, I can get past that and think about what things would be like in a global economy w/o a central bank (the Fed).

I'd be interested to know if Mikey is willing to revisit his statement, and agree that this particular implementation of a central bank is bad, rather than the concept entirely.

billy T

Gentlemen, no matter what the tax rate is or what libbowels think it should be, the spending of the current occupant of the White House will always be higher than the tax revenue. Make it 65% on everybody and it still falls way too pitifully short. Same with California. Save money on the winding down of the Ahab wars? Nay, spend it somewhere else. Bite the bullet and shake the dead fruit off the tree? Nay, spend it somewhere else. Gov't will always be the least efficient administrator of funds. They are even considering giving cell phones to welfare recipients. They need alarm clocks, not cell phones. Remember welfare reform. Oh, the news was full of dire predictions that them mean ole' members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy were going to snatch blankets off young mothers huddled around the burn barrel on a wintery night. That is after The Right Wingers kicked them to the curb as they drive by in their Mercedes making plans to fly to Paris for lunch. Hogwash. Welfare Reform was widely popular and successful. The left is always doom and gloom. Expect the same noise about pension reform. Gov't has never seen a dollar they could not spend. Not ever. And they think it is their money, lol. JFK said it best when he slashed the top tax rate. He said we cannot make a man better by pulling down another man. We have a administration that fosters "What can the government do for me?" Think JFK said "ask what we can do for our country." Unfortunately this ask what our country can do for me mindset is ingrained in our public servants' distorted minds. A sad day in America. And they write the laws!

Michael Anderson

Mikey's response to Now What?, and my replies:

"Now what?" Posted by: Michael Anderson | 13 July 2012 at 12:40 PM

>Try to make as little money as possible so I am not seen as 'enemy #1.'

Why not make as much money as is humanly possible? That what I am trying to do. I see politics as an immovable force, and whether Republican or Democrat, I always seem to be the guy who pays. So I need a high gross in order to cover all the expenses. Remember, death and taxes--they will be here forever.

>Fight my natural propensity to create, produce, solve, invent, serve, improve the >world.

Why would you do that?

>Bring my children up to believe that all humans are worthy of love (regardless of >social standing/wealth, skin color, etc).

Excellent. Me too.

>Protect myself and my family from those who will use FORCE upon us for their envy >based agenda.

This statement is too fraught w/ tension and ennui, and is therefore undecipherable, at least to me.

>Vote for liberty; even if it is a 'lost vote' (Ron Paul).

Certainly your prerogative. Have at it.

>Dwell on the fact that just because a system exists or because a mob votes for a >morally/financially bankrupt system doesn't make it right.

That doesn't sound very productive. Why dwell? Most of the people making oodles of money these days certainly have an opinion about politics--from one side or the other--but that doesn't stop them from their prime directive: making money.

>Live a life where I do no harm, despite the harm done to me by others.

Well, the first part I like. The second part is too vague and sounds like complaining to me.

Michael Anderson

George asked: "Question for MichaelA – what is the common ground between the two ideologies so different as that described above with that of the market capitalism that conservaterians like me believe is the organizing (economic and social) basis for the greatest human advancement ever?"

As I have said before many times, we are closer together than we care to think. I am a market capitalism kinda guy. I have no qualms with the market, or the relentless creative destruction in my industry, that complicate my economic decisions on a daily basis.

We also agree that human advancement is the goal. If we just ratcheted down the strife a bit, I'll bet we could make some real progress.

Todd Juvinall

The reality of our economic system is right there in font of everyone's face. Liberals just must be blind I guess. Small business is stifled. Big business is stifled. Why? Because when one looks at the rules it is simply in the best economic self interest to stay away from the rules. What does that mean? Do not hire a employee. Do not pass a income threshold. If you hire an employee you then become subject to thousands of rules like workman's comp, unemployment insurance, withholding (becoming the government's account and tax collector) and workplace postings and safety meetings and reporting sheets etc. etc. The income threshold is manipulated almost every year at all levels of government. The more you make (80 hour work weeks) the more they take. Now we have the tax break fight again today for Goodness sakes. There is no certainty for a business except they will be hammered if the hire people an make money past the threshold.

So, Mikey is right. The proof is everywhere. Most businesses are family owned and operated so as to not alert the SS. Add to that the zoning rules, the city and county fees for being so kind as to risk your life savings trying to start and maintain a business and you can see the problem.

I recall when I was married to a banking lady in the 70's how the government forced banks (an I am sure other businesses) to hire only part time help because the bank was forced into a huge new set of rules if they kept people full time. That started the demise of benefits for the middle class help since the "rules" foisted on them by the government said part time help was exempt from their rules.

If anyone does not think business adjusts to stay out of the limelight they are smoking the funny plant.

THEMIKEYMCD

I maintain that a central bank is a bad concept (by design it enslaves, manipulates, destroys private property/personal liberty to line the pockets/power of the elite).

There is great reason as to why Americans fought it's existence pre-1913.

THEMIKEYMCD

To Rebane's 8:22 Point

I hear this as hate speech (I am sure this gets a thumbs up from the progressives). Someone should show Obama the tax table above.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/jul/15/picketvideo-obama-if-youve-got-business-you-didnt-/

THEMIKEYMCD

Michael A: in 2007 I paid more in income tax than I ever thought I would earn in a year. The more I researched (see chart above) and debated the immorality of an un-equitable tax structure the more frustrated I became. I was public enemy #1 just because I was successful. I immediately downsized my business (laid off employees) and quit marketing in a successful attempt to decrease my taxable income. Why the hell should I work 70 hour weeks to pay 50%+ of my reward in tax (15% SS/Med, 35% Fed, 9% State) to a wasteful/malfeasance/corrupt/special interest guided government?

I can't begin to describe the difficulty in fighting my natural inclination to produce/solve/invent/serve.

George Rebane

MichaelA’s points are a study (in my view) of an ideology in tension, but not ennui. It is not clear whether he would oppose the government’s friction on, say, employment that has done so much to devastate the middle class as ToddJ’s 739am points out. It appears that on his measured road to socialism, MichaelA keeps looking over his shoulder wistfully, knowing deep inside that as capitalism recedes from his belief system, socialism will never be able to pay for the world of his dreams.

Mickey’s “Live a life where I do no harm, despite the harm done to me by others.” is a fundamental tenet of Christian belief. However, to MichaelA it is “too vague and sounds like complaining”. Another important revelation.

However, what concerns me most and also corroborates the coming Great Divide is MichaelA’s 1122pm in which he gives his best answer to my 1234pm ‘common ground’ question. His response is the, by now, well used response used by good-hearted and sincere liberals, it is a palliative delivered in a bed of pabulum of the kind most recently made famous by Rodney King, that paragon of social simplicity; it is again an answer that is no answer.

So I repeat myself – where is the common ground between us (today’s progressives and free-market capitalists)?

THEMIKEYMCD

George, want to go 50/50 on a big 'We told you so Ad?' LOL.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/calpers-generates-1-return-misses-discount-rate-target-87

Ryan Mount

I've always had a big problem with the Progressive Tax system and the 14th Amendment. They don't seem to jibe. Now I understand, but don't necessarily agree with, the supporters arguments that those who make more "use more," but it kinda seems to be the opposite using that reasoning: people who earn less, tend to actually consume more resources.

But on a less abstract and more practical note, how does someone making $175,000 use more (whatever "more" is) than someone who makes $30,000? I think it's a very specious argument. Isn't it quite possible that someone making $175,000/year might actually use less? And what if that's true? Why should they have to pay more based on this "they use more" argument. Again, that damn 14th Amendment that everyone, except me, seems to hate when it doesn't fit their fiscal or moral agenda.

For the record I have the same beef with Proposition 13; it's unconstitutional.

I think Mikey is right, BTW. But it doesn't matter. What matters is mob rules to the supporters. American Idol meets public policy.

George Rebane

MickeyMcD 1245pm - It would be a good idea if the hubris didn't reach all the way from Sacramento to the Rood Center. Stupid is forever.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304388004577531293525264410.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories

billy T

Good link, Dr. Rebane. Seems they need us more than we need them. Hmmm. At this rate, we the taxpayers, have to bailout the Cal-Pers to the tune of 226 gazillion. The retail sales numbers for the nation have dropped for 3 straight months. Our GDP a year ago was around 2.6% but has dropped to 1.9% as of June. THE ECONOMY HAS GOTTEN WORSE since last year. 31/2 years later, Obama owns this economy and this jobless recovery. And the libbowels want to focus on what Romney did at Bain Capital almost a decade ago and what Romney did at Bain Capital a decade ago. Last month more people filed for disability than got jobs. This is what Obama has done to the middle class. What Obama needs right now is about 3 more Zimmerman shootings to keep doing what he has been doing. Dr. Rebane's link needs to be repeated: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-16/california-public-employee-pension-earns-1-on-investments-1-.html

Michael Anderson

We seem to have wildly divergent definitions of socialism on this blog, to the point where the word is completely meaningless here. I know that George lived under a "socialist" system, so his definition carries more weight than say, Todd's. However, I have read tremendously on the subject since reaching the age of sentience, so when I compare George's version with the overwhelming evidence of others who have also lived under its iron fist, I am left with my first sentence.

Here is a definition that reverberates more closely with my own reading and experience: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/opinion/obama-the-socialist-not-even-close.html?_r=1&hp

Todd Juvinall

Socialism meaningless here as defined? No, we all know what it is. I will easily bow to George's life experience under communism so yes, he carries far more weight than I. But MichaelA, a true blue American why do you make light of something you have never experienced? Silver spooners don't get it until it is too late. Your sentience must have been dazed.

Michael Anderson

Todd, did you read the NYT article? If so, please address the author's contention. Thanks.

Michael Anderson

And please explain what you mean by "silver spooners." Thanks.

George Rebane

MichaelA 545pm - the leftwing Gray Lady does its best to disguise Obama's true colors; we would expect nothing less. However, the attribution of socialism and socialist requiring that the so attributed exhibits all the facets of socialism is naive. This has been extensively discussed in these pages. The first of these pieces started with definitions of socialism.
http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2010/07/who-is-a-socialist.html

Michael Anderson

George, from your July 2010 link: "Socialism is a form of governance that seeks as its endgame the state ownership of the means of production and distribution which it executes through a centralized process of planning and control."

* If the doctors and insurance companies operating under PPACA are privately held, how does this possibly meet your definition? If you don't like the regulations, ask your Congress-critter to change them. Regulations ain't socialism.

* President Obama told the General Motors bond holders they made a bad bet, which they did. For some reason, in your eyes the contracts held by GM bond holders are somehow more sacrosanct than the contracts held by public employee pensioners. [BTW, my inner libertarian says they are both worthless when push comes to shove, and their occasional abrogation will do little to poison capital markets, or employer/employee relations.]

* What about the ~100-yr.-long monopoly that was enjoyed by AT&T? Or the long-time NBC/CBS/ABC hegemony in television? Or the radio monopoly enjoyed by RCA at the outset? Or the vertical integration of the big Hollywood studios from the 1930s to the 1960s? Were those all socialism? Under your definition they certainly seem to be: quasi-private companies doing the bidding of gov't through "means of production and distribution which it executes through a centralized process of planning and control."

I use these examples to illustrate again that the definition here seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

Todd Juvinall

Hopeless. But delusional behavior is something we read and see from the left all the time. How else could anyone who sees Obamacare as still allowing private when it is government? Amazing.

George Rebane

MichaelA 849pm - I'm afraid you are blowing smoke with your examples. Citing the usual 'we're not completely socialistic yet' is low grade ore in this debate. For over a century America has been been on and off the progressive road to autocratic collectivism, which always has a way station at socialism in its various forms. Trying to camouflage this chronicle with semantic pyrotechnics is both an expected and effective response - but not on these pages.

Obama has been publicly celebrated for becoming our first socialist president by everyone from Hugo Chavez to mainstream Newsweek ("We are all socialists now."). Socialist Europe was ecstatic when Obama did his victory lap there, until they began to discover that their own tits were in the socialist wringer big time.

Socialism is like a metastasizing cancer that through great effort can be brought into remission, but never cured ('The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.') Ignorance is the ready handmaiden of socialism, and it is the easiest attribute for an electorate to embrace.

Todd Juvinall

GM bondholders made a bad bet? For goodness sakes, GM sold those bonds to fund their business and it was deemed a good "risk" as it had been for a hundred years. If the company had BK'ed, the bondholders would have got ome of their money back. But to blow off their holding and then, as we see, GM lackey's are now paying Obama back (politically and through the unions with cash donations) why doesn't GM use their "profits" they are so proud of to pay back those bondholders? Oh, they are the 1% MichaelA is not enamored with perhaps?

Michael Anderson

Wow. Talk about smoke.

George, you didn't answer the question. Was AT&T's behavior socialism or not? I happen to believe that it was, and still is as a matter of fact.

Do you also deride AT&T as you do PPACA? I'm just trying to get clarity so we can continue the discussion.

Michael Anderson

The guy in the NYT article, who lived under totalitarian socialism from 1932 until 1968, successfully explains how European socialism is different.

Socialism and capitalism are both important organs in the body politic. Each has its place. Do we open up utilities to the market? Yeah, there's a good idea, let's have lots of different companies running natural gas pipelines to everyone's house!

And yet in telecommunications, that is actually turning out to be a good idea. Let's run different data pipes to people's houses, because the old statist ones are defunct. A successful use of the market.

This stuff is complex. Labeling European-style socialism as a cancer is simplistic, bombastic, and wrong.

Ben Emery

Michael,
Ask for a definition of socialism or communism and you will only hear crickets on RR. I have asked on these pages, to use a Rebane phrase, a number of times and have never gotten a single response.

I have a next sentence prepared but won't divulge it until later. It will be dated and time tagged.

Todd Juvinall

Why don't you two tell us what you think its definition is? Give us some countries utilizing it today so we can get a handle on your definition in practice.

Ben Emery

Wow, it took one comment for me to reveal what was going to be my next sentence in last nights comment.

"AANNDD here comes the challenge from Todd or Mickey for me to define it. 9:55 Monday July 16, 2012"

Ryan Mount

Why is McDonalds (and countless other companies) exempt from good chunks of the PPACA? Socialism? or Cronyism? Why aren't Democrats [really] pissed off about that? Hypocrites.

I think you folks have your terms crossed. We are much closer to crony Capitalism than traditional Socialism. However, I would go out on a limb here and suggest that crony Capitalism is a form of Socialism, or closer to...wait for it...fascism. I am far more worried about the rise of the latter than Socialism which just is gonna cost me more money.

But the thing is, those who are benefiting from this disgusting version of cronyism are the first ones to complain about Socialism. More for me, less for you. Conservatives on this blog are largely Main Street Conservatives, whom I have a great deal of respect for.

Gregory

George, I beg your indulgence here.

Since "TomKenworth", aka Doug Keachie, came out of the sock drawer here a few days ago (2nw from the top) and last posted two days ago on this thread, I thought it would be worth mentioning the apparent reason why he's taking a breather.

He wrote a complete falsehood about himself and me on "Earl" Crabb's blog, and the cartoon at the head of the line is worth a visit:
http://www.rlcrabb.com/general/paying-for-progress/

Let me summarize:

1) Ben Emery posted a holy-than-thou (my interpretation) thought regarding 4th amendment issues.

2) My retort involved mentioning meeting Ron Paul at Timothy Leary's house in '88 and one of the big issues of both (and, by implication, Libertarians) was privacy, and Ben's greens are a bit late to that game.

3) Keachie then wrote, "Funny, Greg, I recall privacy rights being front and center the day in 1988 that Ron Paul had a fund raiser at Dr. Timothy Leary’s house in the Santa Cruz area. Nobody else on this list made Santa Cruz, except Tom Kenworth, who has the photos to prove it. Original post above shows ego schmego, in full bloom."

4) Steve Frisch, piling on, wrote "Doug, are you saying “Tom Kenworth” was at the same famed Ron Paul/Timothy Leary event and Greg was not there?" which is, of course, exactly what the above claimed.

Unfortunately, Leary was living above Beverly Hills at the time, off Benedict Canyon Road. Keach did what he often does, make up something that he thinks fits the facts and pawn it off as truth. Ooops.

I've found a couple of citations backing my version, one in the Washington Post, another from Debra Saunders, columnist in the Chronicle. Probably not Keachie's favorite:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/12/22/ron_paul_turn_on_tune_in_drop_out_112495.html

(Obviously not a Paul fan, but then Paul isn't a conservative and does have a history of going a bridge too far...)

Yes, dear Friends, Doug Keachie intentionally told a howler of a falsehood in order to damage my credibility in a blog. Literally a libel, some would say a slander, in any case a defamation. This isn't the first time (it wasn't even the first libel in that thread), but is is the easiest one to show.

Doug, this is your cue to make a heartfelt retraction and apology here and at RLC's. It's time to stop your harassments in the name of your self appointed mission to be my "nemesis".

George Rebane

Re BenE’s 958pm – Will someone with better contact info advise BenE to see an optometrist or a reading skills instructor. RR is one of the few places in the blogosphere where the author is lavish in giving (operational) definitions of terms and concepts he uses. But that same author (watashi wa) has limited tolerance for naifs who demand that everything be repeated in every post to assuage their short attention spans and limited purview of the record.

Mr Emery may see if the crickets are still singing in the link provided in my 811pm.

Ben Emery

Ryan,
Crony Capitalism is Corporatism or defacto Fascism. We are talking about the total opposite end of the political spectrum. What has happened over the last 30 years of failed policy is the shredding of the private sector part of the social compact with America. Paying workers wages that allowed them to buy the goods they were making and to live a decent standard of living (health care, mortgage, retirement, higher education for children). As wages remained stagnant the cost of living has skyrocketed and the American worker can no longer afford to live this decent standard of living and the politicians continue to increase programs to make up for their lack of political will to cut into the profits of big business out of fear of losing the funding or even worse becoming the targets of that same funding.

Ryan Mount

I understand that Ben. I'm trying to reach out to the other side here. I don't need to reach out to you.

Socialism for corporations, in it's pure sense is fascism. You also need elements populism; you need to convince people that giving money to a large corporation, exempting them from regulations or having them write the laws is good for us. We seem to have all of that with Obama.

George Rebane

MichaelA 941pm - thank you for raising the ATT issue wrt to America's socialism. I want to cover that in a more comprehensive post.

For now I'll say that, yes, there is a benefit for government to create *temporary* environments for newly discovered gadgets and services that would be of obvious benefit to its citizens. The US has done so in general with its Patents & Trademarks Office, and in particular by granting monopoly franchises to enterprises that have, for example, provided communications and transportation services.

For large infrastructure projects, such temporary environments are required to reduce risk and attract investment to launch the commercial enterprises. Unfortunately, it is what happens after successful launch that becomes the travesty known as crony capitalism. (I define 'crony socialism' when government is the money investor.) It is crony capitalism that caused America to have one of the most backward phone systems in the developed world when it was finally time to break up ATT and allow everyone to provide technology, equipment, services, ... .

Now to your "This stuff is complex. Labeling European-style socialism as a cancer is simplistic, bombastic, and wrong."

Here is where we totally disagree. As a form of collectivism, socialism is an unsustainable and transitory form of governance, as every country in its deepening embrace has discovered and/or is discovering now. It is a progressive cancer in every sense of the word. Its level of success is inversely related to the size of the population on which it is imposed (e.g. it's best practiced at the family level).

Ryan Mount

Crony socialism, crony capitalism. George, Ben respectively...there you go. Common ground.

Where you two might disagree is on the scope and breadth of government, although I'm pretty sure Ben is suspicious of our current apparatus and would prefer de-centralizing elements of our government and returning some control to the communities.

Ben? Did I get that right?

Gregory

"Socialism for corporations, in it's pure sense is fascism"

No, the two are almost totally unrelated except in the minds of those who think communism is is left wing and fascism is somehow right wing.

"Socialism for corporations" is related more to PJ O'Rourk's observation, 'When buying and selling is controlled by legislation, the first things to get bought and sold are legislators', It matters little whether the legislators are on the left or the right.

Ben Emery

Greg,
You most definitely got that right, which I think would be more common ground. I want to decentralize power at all levels and all sectors to bring more accountability and more power to the people.

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