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« The Great Divide – ‘We don’t need no stinking Constitution’ | Main | CES2013 »

09 January 2013


Steve Frisch

Seriously, defining anyone who uses Social Security or Medicare when they are programs they have paid into their entire lives, and defining anyone using unemployment, which is also paid into, and is an insurance program, as a "taker", then using it to create a meaningless national rating system, and making long term investment and financial projections based on this faux index, is the height of ridiculousness. I hope every one of your friendly right wing ideologues moves their money based on the Forbes Faux Index. And really, 98% of seniors are "takers"? Please....promote that little ditty. Once agin, propaganda 1, critical thinking 0.


Mr. Frisch, Exactly what did the welfare queens you mention pay into? Are you talking about the taxes everyone paid to fund general government spending? Oh, you were one of those saps who believed there were special funds because the taxes had special names. I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but there is no fund. Your inheritance from your parents is an IOU, and your legacy to your kids is their privilege to fund your government welfare check in your advanced age.

Ryan Mount

Social Security and Medicare entitlements don't bother me as long as their well-managed. And regarding the standard? Social Security is debatable (its hard to get a clear picture on its state) and Medicare is a fiscal train wreck. Unemployment insurance is kind of the same. If we signed up to provide these, willingly or not, we need to support them with taxes. However I don't get the sense that we're serious about that: Democrats spend money we don't have; Republicans want to starve it. Both cowardly solutions.

What bothers me, are things like this:

Now I fully understand the intention, which is to provide the underprivileged with connections to potential employment and family, but I really believe this is inappropriate considering how much in the hole we're in.

By my amateur calculations, this program could cost the Federal and State Government approximately $672,000,000.00 per year. (that's 560,000* eligible x $100/month**)



Ryan Mount

*they're well managed. Sorry.

Michael Anderson

Just walked outside...yep, sky still not falling!

George Rebane

MichaelA 903am - as a man of the Left, you are probably one of the most happy campers reading RR. Just to better understand your offered observations, could you please outline for us what a falling sky would look like to you?

Ryan Mount

@Michael. Did you hear the latest David Bowie Song? It's a well-crafted nostalgia piece that talks just about that. But the back drop is his experience in the counter-culture of 1970s Berlin.

His refrain, "Where are we now?" is answered at the end of the song.

As long as there's Sun
As Long as there's rain
As long as there's fire
As long as there's me
As long as there's you

It's somber, but hopeful. And a lovely song. The guy still has it.

Brad Croul

Sorry, but it is pretty much of a cop-out to blame liberals as the sole perpetrators of all the problems you perceive everywhere. Also, a lot of businessmen (of whom I am sure not all are liberals) must be making a lot of money providing products to the entitlement industrial complex, for example, examining patients and selling overpriced drugs to prisons, hospitals, hypochondriacs, etc.

The statistic that, "As (Eberstadt) notes, in 1960, entitlement payments accounted for well under a third of the federal government’s total outlays. Today, entitlement spending accounts for a full two-thirds of the federal budget", could be the result of a huge population spike working its way through the economy and not just a liberal conspiracy to destroy the country and turn it into a socialist state.

Conservatives are also the recipients of the same entitlements, and conservatives also support massive government spending to forward agenda items usually ascribed to a conservative mindset such as world hegemony, the military, prisons, immigration enforcement, Homeland Security, War on Drugs, etc.

For example, "During the past fiscal year the Obama administration spent $18 billion dollars on immigration enforcement according to a new report. Research from the Migration Policy Institute revealed that the funding for immigration funding for immigration enforcement dwarfs the amount given to any other federal law enforcement agency. Federal spending on the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives totaled just $14.4 billion combined, according to the report... Over the last five years the number of border crossers apprehended has decreased by 53 percent, though spending on staffing and technology has increased throughout the same period. Still, there are those who maintain that the country still is not doing enough to maintain its borders."

That is still close to $30 Billion to chase evil doers around - not including military and Homeland Security.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government has spent more than half a trillion dollars on homeland security.
The President Requested $68.9 Billion to Fund Homeland Security Activities in 2013; About Half Would Be Allocated to the Department of Homeland Security
The President’s request of $68.9 billion is 1.3 percent more than the amount provided for 2012. Although every Cabinet-level department receives homeland security funding, approximately 90 percent of the requested funding would be allocated to four departments:
Department of Homeland Security (DHS—$35.5 billion, or 52 percent of the total homeland security request);
Department of Defense (DoD—$17.9 billion, or 26 percent);
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS—$4.1 billion or 6 percent); and
Department of Justice (DOJ—$4.0 billion or 6 percent).

I would say it is both the entitlement industrial complex and the military/prison/homeland security/law enforcement industrial complexes we must better manage.

When times are good, the government grows with the economy. When times are bad, the economy shrinks, but the government stays bloated and hungry.

Brad Croul

Last month, the Senate Budget Committee reports that in fiscal year 2011, between food stamps, housing support, child care, Medicaid and other benefits, the average US household below the poverty line received $168 a day in government support. What’s the problem with that much support? Well, the median household income in America is just over $50,000, which averages out to $137.13 a day. To put it another way, being on welfare now pays the equivalent of $30 an hour for a 40-hour week, while the average job pays $25 an hour. And the person who works also has to pay taxes, which drops his pay to $21 an hour. It’s no wonder that welfare is now the biggest part of the budget, more than Social Security or defense. And why would anyone want to get off welfare when working pays $9 an hour less?

For more of the Huckabe Report, visit

Higher wages, or less social programs, or both, or neither?

Michael Anderson

Yeah, what Brad said.

George wrote: " a man of the Left, you are probably one of the most happy campers reading RR." Please, call me a libertarian progressive if you want to be an accurate labeler. But you are correct that I'm an eternal optimist. Perhaps it's because I have an 11 yr. old and an 8 yr. old running around in my house--I see their energy and enthusiasm and know that everything's gonna work out just fine.

Ryan, just heard the song yesterday. I agree, truly lovely.

Michael Anderson

Brad: Huckabe Report? Seriously??

George, here is a falling sky:
We're nowhere near that point.

Ken Jones

These states give more in federal taxes than they receive back: New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, Colorado.

These states pay less in federal taxes than they receive back:
New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, W. Virginia, N.Dakota, Alabama S. Dakota, Virginia, Kentucky
Alaska is per capita No 1 recipient of federal benefits; infrastructure projects, DOT and pork projects. Red State mentality.

CA is the 9th largest world economy, LA County the 16th largest world economy. Doom and Gloom from George as usual. Maybe our conservatives need to look at the entire picture instead of the tunnel vision that seems to have inflicted the majority of conservatives.

Joe Koyote

The notion that "government employees" are takers is obscene and stupid. By that analysis teachers, policeman, fire fighters, soldiers, park rangers, tax collectors, county supervisors, Republican congress people, Caltrans workers, public health workers, etc. etc. are all takers of your precious dollars. George Bush gets a government pension plus secret service protection, is he a taker? What did he contribute to the greater good, ever? How many jobs do you create per year George? Do you have Medicare or get a SS check? What about the former CEO who makes $1.4m per month in retirement and also collects their $1600 in SS. Are they takers? Government is not a business, it is a not-for-profit public service. Is that the problem? Do you condemn public workers because they don't make a profit? I recently ran across a new term for me, "consensus reality." They idea is that we all create our own version of what facts are real or not; our reality. And as we all know, given the internet and the multitude of special interest funded think tanks, anyone can find "facts" to support their personal reality like comparing 1960s spending to now. These are spurious causes and effects. For example, far better explanations for the increase in unemployment, welfare ,etc is the vast transfer of wealth to the upper 1% that also occurred during this same time frame and/or the movement of practically all of the manufacturing jobs in America overseas. More Americans need help now than in 1960. To blame "liberal thinking" for this is absurd.

This is where consensus reality comes in. Consensus reality is that version of the facts that a majority of people believe to be true. Those of you on the extreme right have had a reality created for you by self-serving information sources that is by and large completely out of touch with most of the rest of humanity. Victor Davis Hansen is a conservative pan banger and right wing extremist who is taken with a grain of salt outside of the extreme right wing reality. Your sources and ideas can be dismissed just as easily and with the same arguments as you dismiss the ideas and sources of the left.

George Rebane

JoeK 1115am - "Your sources and ideas can be dismissed just as easily and with the same arguments as you dismiss the ideas and sources of the left." Yes, and that is the overarching point in our nation today. No one has identified a middle ground acceptable to our polarized ideologies. Both sides consider the other wallowing in gross error that is due to extreme ignorance or worse, evil.

Brad Croul

Michael, Lol!
I was merely noting my source. It was the basis of an email I received this morning from one of my conservative friends. I posted the sort of multiple choice at the end because I thought the Huckster's post could be taken more than one way.

Ryan Mount

Hear via our media outlets (paraphrasing due to a gin-induced blur):

"After the President spoke today, we here in the newsroom are wondering if what he said swayed people's opinions."

How many times have we heard that? 56,345?

How about asking this this, talking heads: "Was what he said F@#$ing true?!!!!"

I don't care who something comes from as much as if it's true or not? Mike Huckabee? So what? What if Noam Chomsky said the same thing? Or Dr. Oz?

Note, there was NO, as in zero, response from the Democrats. What was that you think? Anyone, Buehler?

Not even a "you're an old fart, STFU Senator Sessions. But the Democrats do a much better job an drafting pretty and misleading graphs and charts.

Account Deleted

I'm seeing the problem here. "CA is the 9th largest world economy, LA County the 16th largest world economy. Doom and Gloom from George as usual. Maybe our conservatives need to look at the entire picture instead of the tunnel vision that seems to have inflicted the majority of conservatives."
We're the biggest, so we have nothing to worry about? Where does this kind of reason come from? The tunnel vision thing we conservatives have is called looking at the bottom line. The bottom line is that we are broke. And getting more so every day. Being big just means we can push the credit lines around for a longer period of time before the repo man comes. Not too long ago my lefty/lib bro-in-law sent me one of the many articles happily pointing out that Texas actually had a bigger debt problem than Cali. The only hitch was that the Texas debt was projected and the Cali debt was actual. Now it seems Texas has a projected surplus of billions and Cali is sinking even further. I realize that the lefties here will just shrug and roll out their new trillion dollar coin. Problem solved. Next. When the rest of the world will refuse to ship us anything until we send back an equally sized ship full of gold, our friends on the left will have a look of shock. Then the shooting starts.
And it won't be AR15s. Lessons not learned from history are painfully re-played.

Ken Jones

Scott conservatives look to the negative and negative only and you are mired in that single element of negativity. Does CA have problems? You bet. However being in a position with such a large economy we can and will improve. Go ahead focus on what you deem as salient points. Ignore that CA receives less than it pays yet a majority of conservative states get more than they pay. Yep tunnel vision, enjoy the view.

Ryan Mount

> Scott conservatives look to the negative and negative only and you are mired in that single element of negativity.

Isn't that a negative comment? I'm pretty sure negativity is an equal opportunity--I dunno--something.

I tend to think most of our issues/problems/whatever stem from a profound lack of imagination and a disdain for the sanctity of the individual. And in that vacuum, cynicism pours in. As does victimization. Not that I'm anyone to criticize that.

Ken Jones

Ryan yep maybe a negative analysis and comment but it is sure damn true. Not that I am a pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna progresive, I just tend to see more of the half full glass than the empty glass and empty rhetoric I read on this blog from some participants.

Ryan Mount

That's fine Ken. I appreciate your candor.

>see more of the half full glass than the empty glass

I always see the glass as 1/2 wasted space. But that's the GenXer in me. "What else," I ask myself, "can I use that 50% of space for? Maybe we need a smaller glass?"

Joe Koyote

George 11:24 --Divide and conquer. The polarization is by design. Our culture is infused with competition.. someone has to win and someone has to lose. While the two sides argue over whose mountain of bullshit stinks least, the real enemies and issues remain clouded from our vision. We are all being played for suckers. The only question is who is playing whom.


Do you notice that the government is openly coming after the rich and now openly coming after our means of protection (guns)? The parallels to the 1930's Germany are growing. Shall we wait until we are loaded into train cars?

Posted by: Michael Anderson | 09 January 2013 at 10:52 AM

The sky only seems to be falling for those of us who are responsible for paying the bills. Bills that are so large (and growing by Trillions -quarterly) they can never possibly be paid.

Todd Juvinall

Ken Jones makes a sweeping statement that conservatives are negative and he, a progressive" is a happy camper type. What a total crock. The right is made up of positive go-getters. How does anyone with a liberal person succeed when all they see and talk about are bad things? I know liberals and have talked to them many times. They are dour, sour and dull. The people on the right are movers and shakers with bright smiles and happy dreams. Liberals think because we chastise government (their mama) we are unhappy people like them. Sorry Charlie.

Paul Emery


Do you consider retired military as part of the "taker" group? It just takes 20 years to earn a pretty fat pension. You can go in at 18 and receive a pension at 38 and cruise for 40 years average.


Even the most dense progressive must admit that the tone of everything coming out of Washington is 'scary'. Insane tax increases (hate the rich!), gun confiscation, we need more debt to address our debt crisis, etc

Is it the crappy education system, the soon to be bankrupt SS/medicare programs, the propensity to be in undeclared wars that have earned the illogical amount of respect progressive have for their godverment?

Ryan Mount

Joe Koyote | 04:03 PM > he polarization is by design. Our culture is infused with competition.. someone has to win and someone has to lose

That's a VERY good thing. Not that losing is any fun or easy. Ask Jerry Cirino. Ask Lefty's.

Look Joe, only the best ideas survive vigorous debates. That's one of the greatest gifts of the Enlightenment and Romantic eras: thesis and antithesis. They duke it out, and the winner becomes the new thesis. We used to call this process "progress," as in the root of "progressive," but it turns out not too many people are in the mood for real progress and rather are more interested in security and safety. Removing Liberties, for example, is hardly progress. It's a rather Conservative maneuver.

Michael Anderson

Re MikeyMcD 417 pm -

1. No, the parallels to 1930s Germany are not growing. Not even a little bit.
2. Your paranoia is growing.
3. No one is getting loaded into train cars in the USA anytime soon. Or the next century.
4. The perception of a falling sky and whether or not someone pays bills is not correlative.



1-the class warfare card being played by our current president sure rhymes with the scapegoat card Hitler played with the Jews. Now they are aggressively pursuing a 2nd amendment cancellation! C'mon, an 8th grader with the i.q. of a pigeon can see the parallels. Course it is hard to question your deity. #bowdown

2-I don't think our military or peace officers will go along with a confiscation law so we have that going for us. #thereishope

3- no, we already did that (Japanese Internment camps, excuse me relocation camps circa 1942) we would never repeat that. #eyeswideshut

4- you are obviously not one of us who are paying to keep the lights on! #moochersdontgetit

Michael Anderson


1. Two terms of Bush begets two terms of Obama. When will the whining stop?

2. Excuse me? Here you are decrying the police state, and then you turn around and say that the guys with the guns won't support democratically enacted legislation. Weird. All I know is that the run up to the coming legislation is a political battle, and creepy ol' Wayne LaPierre with the old-man goo collecting at the corners of his mouth is not doing you guys any favors. Here are the gun control people on the other side, and they are ramping up a very effective message:

3. Non sequitur.

4. I own a growing business and pays lots of bills! What the hell are you talking about?

Michael A.

George Rebane

PaulE 420pm - I believe the military retirees have earned their modicum retirement benefits by putting their asses on the line for us, giving up their civil liberties for the duration, and accepting lower wages without job security (recall RIFs). However, since their retirement compensation does come out of the general fund and not out of a self-funding account, they are still considered as takers in the net accounting. Someone now has to work for their monthly checks because the government already pissed away everything that could have been accrued to fund military retirements, as they did with everything that you and I paid in for SS, Medicare, etc.

To that extent we are all takers. The bottom line is that we're not paying in enough to fund what we are taking out - i.e. we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy; can you spell G-R-E-E-C-E?

Taxing more will again reduce federal revenues. The only solution is growth which the socialists know nothing about promoting.

Tim B

OK, OK! Let's hear from say maybe, a realist! I'm no lefty or righty, but it really does not take a genius to realize the REAL problem is simple; we the people have elected the greediest, lying sacks of poop on the planet to run the Country. We did this! What did any of us think would happen when we give the keys to the kingdom to those who have been known, and praised as "successful", or being the best liars, or most likely to rob their own mothers for a dollar? Greed has this Nation! Nothing new. The Real question here folks is, what are WE going to do? Continue to bitch? Or devise a real plan of action?

Ryan Mount

Just keep your eyes on the bond markets. Even with the blatant and shameless Fed manipulation, this shell game can't last forever; the Fed can't continue to mop-up inflation ad infinitum.

As soon as the rates start moving up and/or inflation finally arrives, then we can start talking about insolvency in real terms. (Of course the assholes are already warning us about the inevitable climbs, so they'll probably just take credit for it.)

But there is just no "there, there" [yet]. I think this is true due to Fed manipulation, but it's also due to the fact that the rest of the globe is far more fiscally screwed up than we currently are. Sans, say maybe China, but they're attached to our hip both in bonds and in both our supply and demand chains.

In a nutshell, no one can afford for the USA to take any significant crap. But that may not matter what they want.


" Please, call me a libertarian progressive if you want to be an accurate labeler." M Anderson

Mike, when will the libertarian come out to play? Only the "progressive" seems to be making posts.

Account Deleted

A libertarian Progressive. I love that. That's a sort of person that wants to do whatever they want and be able to tell everyone else what to do. Great title.
As far as conservatives being all doom and gloom, you couldn't be more wrong. We're all quite happy. Just sorry to see the rest of the herd go into the crapper. There is a wonderful answer and way out of the mess. Start following the Constitution and let the good producers of this country do their thing. No - not everyone will "win". Only the hard workers and the industrious. The rest will have to sit on their keesters in the mud until they want to get up and join the producers. Works every time it's tried. But if you think that paying folks to sit idle and coining trillion dollar specie is the way, and you are in the majority (and it seems you are) then that's the way we'll go. It works pretty well until it doesn't and then it doesn't work at all. Ask a Greek.


Ryan Mount... keep ye eyes peeled on (Keynesian) Japan. Seen the Yen lately? A rise of 2% on their debt would bring them to their knees (same with us).

I still can't get used to throwing around the word TRILLION like it's a nerf football.

George, the progressives use the word "inflation" as a place holder for "growth."

Michael A obviously is not patriotic enough to pay his fair share of taxes (bills).

Paul Emery

George 4:20 pm

That can also be said of all government retirees without prejudice who have paid their dues and served their time. Also include those on Social Security and unemployment.

Paul Emery


I'm a Green Libertarian myself. Taking care of the earth should be the work of an enlightened culture and should not need government involvement. It's only when that relationship fails that we have to resort to government action to protect essential resources such as air and water.

Michael Anderson

Scott wrote: "That's a sort of person that wants to do whatever they want and be able to tell everyone else what to do."

It's about nuance Scott, something that escapes self-righteous ideologues.

Mikey wrote: "Michael A obviously is not patriotic enough to pay his fair share of taxes."

What are you claiming here Mikey? That I don't pay my taxes? That I'm break the law? Help me out here, and then we'll go from there.

Michael Anderson

Paul, on this blog, if you're Green you're a member of the Communist Party. And you're a liar if you claim to have any libertarian leanings, it's impossible to do both at once.

The Chicken Littles here have been claiming that inflation was going to destroy America pretty much since the day Obama took the oath of office in January of 2008.

I'm still waiting.

Ryan Mount

> if you're Green you're a member of the Communist Party

I think that's true. I'd say Paul is more of Left Libertarian. (sorry to categorize you Paul, I beg your pardon) But we can use the word "Green" in there as well. Take a Right Libertarian, which tends to be more Anarcho-Capitalist oriented, and substitute say locally organized labor or environmentalism (Anarcho-Syndacalism or Anarcho-Evironmentalism, to pick two factions lambasted in Monty Python), and you have Left Libertarians.

Note: Left Libertarians are the toughest survival rates. Think Spanish Anarchists who had to get a unanimous vote before attacking Franco. At least the Right Libertarians, whom I consider argumentative yet kissing cousins to the Left variety, have a "crank" home in American politics. The Leftish brood simply drop out and live on the Ridge and bitch.

However no one in these threads are as extreme as I'm laying out here.

BTW, Michael. Mikey puts his money where his mouth is. Similar to you. You're both small business owners whom I applaud and admire. I'm not sure about this "loading on trains" thing he proclaims (sorry to speak of Mikey in the third person), but I'm pretty sure his analysis on Fed manipulation is spot on. You betta bet that he's watching the bond markets like a hawk in his line of business.


For the record I do not think we are minutes away from being 'loaded on trains' I was making the point that the singling out of a minority as a scapegoat, today, rhymes with the singling out of the Jews in the 1930's. I am sure that more Germans (Jewish or otherwise) wish that they had squashed the hate based scapegoat before it was too late.

Regarding Michael A's tax payments (or lack thereof)... if someone is not bitching and moaning about US tax rates then they are not paying their 'patriotic' amount (i.e. 'enough'). In 2011 I paid 52% of my taxable income to taxation (income tax, property, sales, car, etc combined). Too damn much given the lack of product/services I receive for such payments and more importantly from a moral standpoint the fact that more than half of society pays ZERO income tax.

Though I believe we should be pleased that we don't get the government we (taxpayers) pay for!

sorry about a rush

George Rebane

PaulE 1057pm - That most certainly CANNOT be said of anywhere near "all government retirees". That is a perverse statement. It appears that you have not been paying attention to the causes of the fiscal crises which have hit governments at all levels. And this definitely is a barn I don't want circle again here.

Account Deleted

re Michael at 12:56 - "It's about nuance Scott, something that escapes self-righteous ideologues." Who is self-righteous, Michael? Names? Are your opinions also self-righteous? Or are you allowed to do what you will not allow others? A libertarian believes that govt power should be severely limited and not allowed to intrude into the daily lives of the citizen. A green or progressive believes the govt should intrude into every facet of our daily lives. They are the complete opposite. Paul E has put his finger on it precisely. "Gee - I'd love to really be a libertarian, but first you have to do as I say". That's exactly what a real libertarian does, Paul. They acknowledge that we have different views and ways of life. I can certainly make the case that legalizing many drugs for recreational use causes me harm by degrading the health and safety of the general population just as you can make the case that allowing me to live as I want degrades the air and water. I would strongly disagree with your view and you, mine. I'll allow you lefties to live your life as you wish - you can all pay the govt as much as you want. I certainly won't stand in your way. You can drive an electric car as far as the extension cord will let you. Just get your hand out of my pocket, thank you very much. And one more thing. An anarchist believes in no govt. The conservatives that post here want a Constitutional republic. A strong, but limited govt. That is hardly anarchy in any form. Although I don't want to over step and miscategorize any one. I'd love to hear what the others consider them selves to be. I just think that trying to call yourself a green/progressive and then also trying to call yourself a libertarian is far beyond 'nuance' and becomes the laughable spectre of having one's foot on the dock and the other foot firmly on the departing ship. Something has to give and right now, it's your credibility.

Ryan Mount

> A green or progressive believes the govt should intrude into every facet of our daily lives.

Not all Greens. That was my point above. However I will grant you that there are enough of the government (not communal) collectivist types to provide the perception that all Greens are like that. There are Greens that believe the government is the source of the environmental issues, enabling bad behavior. Here's a good primer on it:

Think Classical Environmentalism like Emerson or his wife-covetous, hippie, cabin-living friend Thoreau. (Thoreau lusted after Emerson's wife and the conventional wisdom is that Thoreau's weekly dinners at Emerson's home were just so he could stare at her. And get out of god-forsaken "cabin.")

I've spoken out here against crony Environmentalism led by the government. Specifically with land use and selective extermination practices on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Progressives? I have nothing really positive to say about them and their ends justifies the means approach to just about everything.

Paul Emery


Let's try this. Two people own property on different sides of a waterway that is used for drinking water for people downstream. One believes (Green Libertarian) it's the right thing to do to not pee in or near the water and prevents government intrusion by voluntarily action, another doesn't care and pee's anyway saying it's his right to do whatever he wants on his land. The people downstream cannot use the water because of it being polluted and organize to prevent the accused pe-er from dangling his worm in the river through laws and regulations to protect their essential interests. The true libertarian is the one who acts responsibly and in everyone's common interest and prevents government intrusion. The other is the cause of intrusion by saying his rights are more important than the common good.

To me it's that kind of self serving behavior that causes big government to thrive and grow.

This is pretty simplistic but give it a go. It's the basis for what I call Green-Libertarianism.

Paul Emery


Are you saying that a retired military person is in a different category than a retired government worker? They both engaged in a contract of employment that promised retirement and benefits after working for x number of years. How do you draw the distinction and what is the remedy?


Jim Rickards ‏@JamesGRickards

First the guns . Then they come for the #gold . The tempo of events does seem to be accelerating.

Account Deleted

I think the first problem is that I'm talking about labels that you would use to define the type of govt you want. If you are truly a libertarian, then that is the type of govt you would want. Being 'green' then is a lifestyle you have chosen for yourself and will not impose on others. That is fine. A 'green' as a type of governance is, by definition, meddlesome in every type of activity of your life. Paul's example is worthless because no one wants to pollute a stream with human waste and in any event the courts are able to handle the dispute. A green govt dictates how many windows I can put on the north side of my house, what kind of light bulb I can use and so forth. 'Greens' as a political force are akin to 'progressives' in their relentless desire to strip away civil liberties and freedoms. Let's separate the labels for type of governance from the labels for personal lifestyles. You can be a green or a vegan or a pagan or whatever on your own time and your own dime and I'm fine with it. Hope that clears that up.

Ryan Mount

OK. We do categorize to our peril.

However as long as we are comfortable labeling the Right Libertarian's belief in Capitalism and free markets as a lifestyle, I'm perfectly happy with your criticism. Because the Green Libertarian would argue that a sustainable, clean environment is as important, if not more as a free and transparent marketplace. And they see themselves as the advocates for that as the Right Libertarians are the advocates for the marketplace.

A Green Libertarian isn't interested in the force of Government only in terms of enforcing laws and contracts. Advocating new laws, especially ones that remove liberties from other people, is cause to kick the Libertarian part of the moniker out of the political tree house and into a more totalitarian (statist/socialist) category. Think Democrats and European Socialists.

They're a subset of Left Libertarians. We used to call them hippies and they tended/tend to come in a couple of notable flavors: communal and anarchist types. One of the things that tends to piss off Right Libertarian types is the activist Left Libertarian insistence on "social justice." These social justice principles are largely secularized versions of religious (notably Christian) practices.

In the USA, I take great issue with the current wave of middle class, iPhone social justice, because it's hard to have sympathy for our overweight poor who watches Dr. Oz on their discounted Comcast Cable. But in other parts of the less privileged world, a Left Libertarian makes more sense. Here, not so much unless it influences the way our government and our institutions, corporate and otherwise, are marginalizing/damaging other countries' populations. Think Chevron's (Texaco/Texpet) arrogant actions and subsequent middle-finger in Ecuador.

Paul Emery

Scott Obermuller | 10 January 2013 at 12:37 PM

"no one wants to pollute a stream with human waste "

Not true Scott.

It took government intervention to mitigate the effects of industrial pollution in Lake Erie. Blame the polluters for creating the need for government intervention.

"By the 1960s, Lake Erie had become extremely polluted, in part due to the heavy industry that lined its shores in Cleveland and other cities. Factories dumped pollutants into the lake and the waterways that flowed into it (like the Cuyahoga River) without much government oversight. Waste from city sewers made its way into the lake too, as did fertilizer and pesticides from agricultural runoff.

As a result of these pollutants, Lake Erie contained increased levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, which contributed to eutrophication - a process that encourages the development of algal blooms. Dead fish littered the shoreline as a lack of oxygen in the water led to massive fish kills. Episodes like this led to the coining of the phrase - more sensational than factual - "Lake Erie is dead," which started to appear in national publications in the late 1960s."


"First they came for the gun owners, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a gun owner... then they came for 'THE RICH' and I didn't speak out because I wasn't rich..."

George Rebane

PaulE 1143am - The distinctions are large and obvious beyond discussion; give it a try yourself.

134pm - Our rivers and streams became commons for waste disposal way before the industrial age. That they weren't polluted was due to Garrett Hardin's observation that 'The solution to pollution is dilution.' But dilution only works when you don't violate the carrying capacity of the commons. Those commons began to be violated by many types of agents beginning approximately after WW1. But as Hardin also taught, there are many ways that government can remove the commons ranging from draconian regulations and enforcement to enlightened regulations that allow distributed corrections and self-enforcement. Scumbag politicians always favor the former for re-election purposes.

RyanM 134pm - "...the Green Libertarian would argue that a sustainable, clean environment is as important, if not more as a free and transparent marketplace." And therein lies another ideological conundrum - to the extent that we diminish our free and transparent marketplace, to that extent and more we diminish our ability to maintain a sustainably clean environment. Only countries and jurisdictions that generate discretionary wealth are able to afford what the light-thinking Green Libertarian would mandate.

Paul Emery


Excuse my dumbness but can you refresh me as to why the agreements of employment between Military workers and civilian workers have different criteria for fulfillment of promises?


I used Lake Erie as a response to Scotts contention that "no one wants to pollute a stream with human waste." My position remains unchallenged.

George Rebane

PaulE 224pm - I may be prejudiced beyond recall, but to the extent that the compensation, work conditions, and pension plans for civilian government workers have been negotiated between rapacious public sector unions and corrupt politicians, they are not of the same category of obligation for me as a taxpayer to bear the burden. None of the parties to those agreements, always made in 'executive session' negotiations' (aka dark of night) represented me or my interests. Tens of millions of taxpayers are of the same mind.

To differentiate, what we got from those agreements was a government workforce predominated by private sector rejects and professional leeches who know how to play the public service game. The resulting contracts have driven jurisdictions across the land into untold levels of unfunded liabilities and Chapter 9 proceedings. We suffer for not heeding FDR's depression era warnings about the so-called public service unions.

Our all volunteer military is of a totally different caliber of people who continue to demonstrate a professionalism and constitutional proficiency (to secure the nation) that is a world class leader. Not in the 'care' of rapacious unions, their compensation has always lagged the federal pay scales.

Will these categories of work contracts have "different criteria for fulfillment of promises?" De juris, NO. De facto, YES because 1) the civilian worker pension liabilities are at levels that cannot be retired, and 2) the taxpayers will revolt before paying the tax rates required to fulfill those union-negotiated contracts. That which cannot be paid will not be paid.

Russ Steele



I am a 20 year retired Air Force Officer. I went through Aviation Cadet training and was commissioned as a Lt in the Air Force Reserves. After six years of outstanding service, early promotion, etc. I was offered a Commission in the Regular Air Force, assuring me at least 20 year to retirement if I did not commit a capital crime. My friend Mike came through ROTC and he was commission in the AF Reserve. He was not offered a regular commission and at 16 year into his AF career he was told they no longer need his services. Out he went no retirement. He did however live near an AF Base with a Reserve Unit and complete 30 year of service and a retirement check.

I think it is hard to just layoff a federal worker at 16 years, with no retirement benefits, unless they have participate in some capital criminal activity. And, maybe not then.

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Ryan - we're going to have to agree to disagree. There is no way in my mind to square the term 'libertarian' and 'social justice' or 'libertarian' and mandated 'green' policies. There is nothing 'sustainable' about any of the govt mandated edicts that I've seen from the greens. They will (are going to) absolutely collapse our economy.
Social justice is all about govt meddling in the free market and that is 180 degrees from libertarian thinking. There are a lot of folks that tried to get their own renewable energy projects going and were stopped by govt policies. The govt is the enemy of truly 'green' policies. The worst ecological disasters in the world were in countries that had govts with massive power over the people. 'Smart' growth is another big loser from the greens. Since when does the govt have the power to force people to live in little boxes crammed in the city? And that is exactly what the 'greens' openly espouse. And the socialists love that kind of crap as well. In the end, social justice is just communism with a kinder face. It still turns out just as bad, because anytime you have the govt picking winners and losers, some one has to decide the outcome and have the power to enforce it. And what do you know, but the 'deciders' end up deciding they should have more than anyone else. Sorry - free market capitalism is not perfect, but it's just way better than anything else that's come down the pike. The greenest policies in the end are free market policies. I love to hear about folks thinking that there must be a better, new way and it's never really new or better. We either have more freedom or less. More freedom is not Eden or Heaven. It is always saddled with problems. It comes with added work and responsibilities. But it's far better than any alternative. History has shown us that.

Account Deleted

re Paul at 2:24 - "My position remains unchallenged." What the hell is your position? I'm not sure that you even can keep track.

Ryan Mount


First Off, I'm not advocating anything in particular. I just happen to have sympathies for these a point.

Real Leftish Libertarians are very rare in this country for a variety of reasons. If said factions involve the State, they're usually Social Democrats or Progressives. I think Federal Central Planning is inherently evil and destructive.

> here is nothing 'sustainable' about any of the govt mandated edicts that I've seen from the greens.

I agree. My form of green politicking generally involves attacking the government and it's cronies for damage. (see my comment regarding Hawaii above where the government is destroying native food stores with the help of their environmental NGOs and Multi-national Agri-businesses) We have an relatively strong court system here as you mentioned above to handle such things. My point is Left Libertarian-ism activism has much more traction in the developing world as per my Chevron/Ecuador comments above. In governments that are highly corrupt (or weak), grass-roots environmental activism makes more sense. And is very dangerous and born typically out of desperation.

> Social justice is all about govt meddling in the free market and that is 180 degrees from libertarian thinking.

Yes, in countries such as ours it certainly serves no or little purpose other than to make white middle class people feel like they're making a difference in paying someone's iPhone bill. It's necessary, but not nearly in its current scope.

> social justice is just communism with a kinder face

Communism and Centrally Controlled State Communism are two distinct precepts. There are people who live quite happy and healthy lives all over the world in quasi Communism communities. The garish and screwed-up former Eastern Block variety is quite different.

> it's far better than any alternative

Totally agree.

Paul Emery


My position is of course that some people do indeed knowingly pee in the water if they can get away with it. As far as environmental compliance to do the right think do you think for a minute hydrolic gold miners the sierra would have voluntarily quit without government orders?

Account Deleted

Paul - There is a gigantic difference between peeing in a stream and a massive flow of toxic waste into a large body of water. Actually, if I found out that someone was peeing in a stream that ran through my property, I wouldn't care a bit. It would help our discussions here if you would be a bit more forthright and not so obtuse. When large industries started dumping waste in the rivers and lakes, no one cared. In the 1860's everyone all over the world dumped everything into whatever body of water was available. As time went on, there was an uneven change in opinion as to how much it hurt the lakes and rivers and even as to whether there was even a problem. Your blind spot is that you think everyone is in full agreement about what constitutes harm to the environment. The hydraulic mining would have been shut down one way or the other. It wasn't the Sierra Club that went to court, it was the cities of Marysville and Yuba City that were upset because all of the sediment was settling down around their towns and causing flooding in the spring. They would have used violence to settle it if the courts hadn't ruled in the cities' favor. By the way - whom do we sue for all of the debris that washed down out of the Grand Canyon?
"As far as environmental compliance to do the right thing" I see that you have been named Pope Paul and are issuing edicts as to what is the "right" thing. Preach it, brother! Thump that holy book! Paul knows what is "right". You will find, brother Paul, that there is a big world out there with a multitude of ideas as to what is "right'.

Michael Anderson

Scott opined: "I just think that trying to call yourself a green/progressive and then also trying to call yourself a libertarian is far beyond 'nuance'..."

and then Paul wrote: "The true libertarian is the one who acts responsibly and in everyone's common interest and prevents government intrusion."

What Paul said.

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re M Anderson's post at 7:08 - Who gets to decide what is 'responsible' and who gets to decide what is in 'everyone's common interest'? What sort of 'actions' are you talking about? The way you prevent govt intrusion, dear sirs, is to elect folks that will follow the Constitution, such as Ron Paul. Voting for a Green Party or progressive pol will result in increased govt intrusion. You cannot have it both ways.

Paul Emery


To respond to your expostulation of 4:27 I must quote Plato

“good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”

Scott, I know this is difficult for you but here's more Plato

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

Also Socrates

"To be able to know or choose the right rule, two types of goodness are required: goodness of character (moral goodness) and goodness of intellect."

Aristotle goes on to say that the morally weak are aware of the correct rule but do not possess the fortitude to follow it. The wicked, on the other hand, deliberately choose the wrong rule

Account Deleted

I take it that neither Paul nor Michael can answer my questions. Paul simply repeats himself. It's all blather. Go knock on any door in town and inquire if the good folks inside feel they are acting responsibly. Amazingly, everyone is! So, no more laws and no more govt! Good work, Paul. After all of this, we are back to square one. If you all on the left were farmers and grew crops as you make arguments, you would starve.

Michael Anderson

Scott, I don't know how much more clear we can be. We're green/progressive but want people to clean up their own messes and be responsible for themselves. It's an ethic, a moral code if you will. But if a person or group fails to protect the commons on their own, then the gov't we elected as a locale, state, or nation must step in to prevent damage. Does that help?

George Rebane

Re MichaelA's 719am - commons are inevitably destroyed, only at different rates depending on their growth of their consuming populations. Having a commons maintained by the gun is the least enlightened way to attempt its salvation. That is for two reasons, 1) the guns multiply and begin managing more and more of the commonwealth in non-productive ways, and 2) the guns come into our private lives to manage what we do there also. The enlightened way is to change stressed commons into assets that are controlled in the most local and distributed means possible (see Garrett's example of using the Mississippi for a drinking water source). Today conservatives seem to be the only ones who know that. The Left just wants to expand Leviathan.

Paul Emery


Here's one for you about the environmental responsibility of living on earth

Leviticus 25:23-24

The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land

Account Deleted

Now the left is quoting the bible. Gotta love it.
re M Anderson at 7:19 - Oh, I get it. I got it a long time ago. It's you on the left that can't understand. " but want people to clean up their own messes and be responsible for themselves."
I want that too. The rub comes when we get down to what constitutes a "mess" and who gets to decide the actions necessary to be considered "responsible". It seems to be sailing right over your heads that folks have vastly different views on the subject.
I am taking care of my property and it isn't a mess. So, why are there all of these govt agencies on my back? It doesn't seem to be working as you claim.

Ken Jones

Scott we all know the right are the only true believers and followers of the Bible. Didn't know God took political sides. Pure sanctimonious bs.

Ben Emery

No time to read through the very predictable responses but think the upside down thinking of the modern "conservative" mind that puts those who benefit off the labor of others somehow are the makers while those who actual toil are the takers.

There is no disputing the fact that it is labor that creates or makes wealth/ value. Those who take initial risk over time become the takers while those they employ are actually the makers.

If people want more workers to pay income taxes than lets pay workers enough to qualify to pay income taxes. I pay as a self employed person more percentage in FICA alone than Romney pays in total percentage. Romney is a taker in the worst way, he is a vulture capitalist that buys out companies, dumps the debt from the purchase onto the company and its workers and then after the workers pay the debt off the company is then disassembled and sold off with the profit going to Romney.

Bernie Sanders (I) VT top ten tax dodgers or takers.

George Rebane

BenE 1152am - Perhaps a more careful read "through the very predictable responses" would have helped.

No one has posited that workers in a wealth producing enterprise are takers (did your Marxist blinders get in the way of that?).

It also sounds as if you may be a proponent of the flat tax. If so, that's a refreshing revelation.

In the aggregate, Romney et al saved and created more jobs than the leftwing trumpets cite that they eliminated. But that is an aspect of capitalistic free enterprise that is invisible to the liberal mind. More formally, it is the part "not seen" as explained most lucidly by Bastiat over 150 years ago.


Paul stated, and MA seconded, the idea that "The true libertarian is the one who acts responsibly and in everyone's common interest and prevents government intrusion."

PJ O'Rourke's two rules of government is the most succinct statement of libertarian principles I've seen:
"There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself."

Given the year, he added in explanation (in a Cato Institute address), "Keep your hands to yourself, Bill. Hillary, mind your own business."

I think Paul is confusing libertarianism with communitarianism, which has a focus on the common interest, or community, unlike libertarianism where the focus is on individual liberty, to mind your own business as long as you keep your fingers out of your neighbor's.

"Green" and "Progressive" libertarians seem all too ready to use the powers of the state to coerce others to bow to the "common interest" they hold dear. That's not very libertarian.

Account Deleted

re Ken Jones at 10:53 - You miss the point completely, sir. When the conservatives ever bring up Christian views and values as to their relevance to a topic involving the govt, we are shouted down as 'bible thumpers' and trying to impose our narrow views on others. We are told to keep our views to ourselves and that religion has no place in the conversation. Then the left starts quoting the bible. That's hypocrisy.
It goes on all the time in politics. Democrats love to campaign in churches during regular Sunday services, and talk about how they believe Jesus would want them to enact certain laws. Then they decry the 'intrusion' of the religious right into politics. The phoney "wall of separation between church and state" seems only to apply to conservatives. When it suits the left, they trot out men of the cloth to back them up every time they can. I never intended to imply that God takes sides in politics. I'd just like to know when we start playing by the same rules.

Paul Emery

Yeah Scott

The Bible is pretty much llke the Constitution, you can go to it with any preconceived belief and find scriptures to support your beliefs. Iraq war, Homeland Security Act Constitutional? No problem for the Repubs. Bomb children with Drones? No problem for the Thumpers and Dems. " must provide for the redemption of the land" no problem unless I want to make a buck off it then I'll rip it to the bedrock and leave it bare.

Account Deleted

Paul, if you want to pick and choose the devil can quote the Bible. The Constitution is like the Bible in that it has a central theme that runs through it. That theme is clear in both instances. You are free to twist that theme to your heart's content. Of course you can pick and choose what you want to believe from any book you pick up. Please don't start throwing the actions of the Rs in my face as I'm not a R and don't like a lot of what they do. When did I advocate - "make a buck off it then I'll rip it to the bedrock and leave it bare".? You are now off into fabrication land. Try to stay in the realm of reality, Paul.

Ben Emery

Maybe it is you that has the blinders on by writing a post that is titled "Makers vs Takers". I took the traditional meaning of the term/ meme. I stopped trying to read your posts because they are filled with 85% circular logic and 15% substance hidden in academia vernacular that is steeped in extreme right wing ideology. Its a waste of my time. But what I find is that most of these conversations take on the shape of the mainstream pundits that are part of the establishment and powers that be along with their talking points/agenda. When we accept the establishments narrative on almost any issue we are just pissing in the wind because it is formulated to concentrate on our differences and ignore our commonalities. These commonalities would threaten those who control the levers of power and their wealth. You my friend are a master at concentrating on our differences, thus are a tool of the establishment and want to continue the status quo. Most people who are driven by selfishness want to keep the status quo if they are doing alright despite all of the other people who are doing poorly.

Flat Tax on luxury Items only then I will be in but a flat tax on daily items is the most regressive tax that could be implemented.

We need to move away from promoting consumption on a finite planet as the main driver for an economy, especially with half the planets population moving into the developed world. The economy will sustain itself if we change our way of measuring it but if we continue to measure it by growth only we will continue to experience peak and trough cycles. We are on one a one way street to self annihilation.

Paul Emery


My diversion to biblical and philosophical quotes intended to put a historical perspective on my contention that the true Libertarians are those who live responsibly and within the limits that a sustainable lifestyle provides. This makes government intrusion unnecessary Phoney Libertarians are those whose main concerns are centered on "me and my stuff". Don't take it personal unless you want to.

Ben Emery

To finish my thought on you being used as a tool by repeating mainstream pundits talking points and memes. As far as a know you're not even being paid for your devote service in promoting the agenda of the establishment. This establishment would be equivalent to the powers that the American Revolutionaries/ Insurgents/ Terrorist fought against.

Those who call themselves political commentators that dominate corporate media do so because they are earning a very good living by doing so. Makers vs Takers is a corporate narrative pushed by think tanks and big business that promotes keeping the status quo. Those with power invest 7 days a week 24 hours a day at keeping their wealth and power but only when ordinary people push back it is called "Class Warfare". I guess when their is no push back it should just be called corporate despotism or Fascism. They figured out the best way to achieve this is by multi pronged approach of buying off government and massive PR marketing. A quote by one of your favorites Upton Sinclair that goes to show no matter how things seem to change they stay the same.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

It has always been that way and will always be that way, less than 2% of the worlds population dominate the worlds policies and equality gap never seems to be filled for long term because those who have done alright will oppress those below them so they will not lose what they perceive as their hard earned gains, which were only created by opportunities they now seek to take from the others. You are a perfect example of this idea. Public schools, government jobs and contracts, access to affordable public universities, ect.. but you continuously write in RR about taking these very same opportunities from other people.

When we only repeat the agenda of the status quo we become irrelevant because we are blind to the real issues at hand.

George Rebane

BenE 1020am - thank you for that thoughtful and civil criticism of RR. But my takeaway is a conundrum. For years I have been accused by the Left as a lonely and somewhat deranged voice in these mountains, foisting solitary positions that are beyond any ideological fringe. Now you accuse me of being simply an echo chamber for established and sinister rightwing interests.

I contend that I hold intellectually defendable and well-defended tenets of an amalgamated ideology that I call conservetarian, an ideology that blends ideas from conservative and classical liberal (libertarian) thought. And as a quick perusal of these pages will reveal, I almost always lead the national media with my interpretative commentary on major happenings; usually by hours or a day, sometimes even by weeks if not longer (as examples my ideas on par force are just now beginning to gain some recognition from commentators, and the Bayesian basis for discrimination and prejudice are still unknown in the media world). Nevertheless, I do also weigh in on other people's opinions with my own peculiar take, and cite them as I do so.

Were I really as you judge me, there would be no profit in your or anyone else's commenting and debating on these pages. There are many other more prominent blogs where your ideological labors would then bear more abundant and visible fruit. If the ideas and their dissection there is the same or even better, why tarry?

All that said, I continue to welcome your visits to RR, and the perspectives you bring to the topics discussed.

Ken Jones

No Scott I didn't miss the point. I am not a Democrat but you are quick to infer that only Democrats have issues with the use of the Bible in political context. I know both liberals and conservatives that view the Bible as the text of God, not a book to be used as a political pawn. I find many conservatives that like to quote the Bible when they feel it would help their politics yet fail to live by the values within the book. Liberals too. The hypocrisy in this argument is one side believing they are more moral than the other. I have a huge issue with those who are morally flexible depending on current politics.

Ben Emery

There is very little profit to be had commenting on these pages outside a person self satisfaction.

You have either given in or have never understood that you're a stooge for the republican party leadership. If you truly wanted to create the change you present on these pages then you would abandon the republican party because they are 100% corrupted by those who put their profits over your liberties and freedoms. The democratic party is just as corrupt and do the same to those who blindly or willingly vote for their leadership as well. We have a government that is, for, and by big business, which is not in the best interests of the nation or those of us who live in it.

George Rebane

BenE 226pm - You're welcome.

Paul Emery

True Ben

It's the crack in the cathedral to claim to be a Conservative intellectual and yet show such naivete when it comes to party allegiance. It totally discredits the integrity of the opinion when, for example, Obama is accused for abuse of power for various things and Reagan's role in Iran Contra is shrugged off with a "you gotta do what you gotta do" attitude. The hens come home to roost when the sun goes down.


Socialism is bound to fail and stifles creativity, not:

George Rebane

JesusB 1020am - thanks for the link. Reuters does indeed put a good spin on all news progressive. But you should see this week's big spread in The Economist re the marked right turn that all Nordic countries have taken, and are continuing on as we speak. That prestigious newspaper has belatedly discovered what's been reported for years on RR - that their entitlement and social programs are not sustainable (Norway being the slowest to go broke because it has offshore oil reserves that are vast for a country of 4M souls.)

Paul Emery


Is this the article you refer to from this weeks Economist? Seems quite complimentary to me as something that is likely to be emulated.

"That is partly because the four main Nordics—Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland—are doing rather well. If you had to be reborn anywhere in the world as a person with average talents and income, you would want to be a Viking. The Nordics cluster at the top of league tables of everything from economic competitiveness to social health to happiness. They have avoided both southern Europe’s economic sclerosis and America’s extreme inequality.........he main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed far-reaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum. The world will be studying the Nordic model for years to come.


Paul, you found social Democrat friendly quotes, let's look at the meat of the article:

"Taxes have been cut: the corporate rate is 22%, far lower than America’s. The Nordics have focused on balancing the books. While Mr Obama and Congress dither over entitlement reform, Sweden has reformed its pension system (see Free exchange). Its budget deficit is 0.3% of GDP; America’s is 7%... On public services the Nordics have been similarly pragmatic. So long as public services work, they do not mind who provides them. Denmark and Norway allow private firms to run public hospitals. Sweden has a universal system of school vouchers, with private for-profit schools competing with public schools. Denmark also has vouchers—but ones that you can top up. When it comes to choice, Milton Friedman would be more at home in Stockholm than in Washington, DC."

Not a haven for teachers and schools that don't teach, imagine that.

Paul Emery

Of course I saw that Gregory. What I didn't see was any indication they are going broke and heading for bayonets in the streets as George likes to take things. "Norway being the slowest to go broke"

I've always advocated that there is a necessary push and pull between both sides that creates healthy options and the Economist agrees. the article gives no indication they are going to abandon their national health care systems for example.


George, it's often difficult to get what the people of another country really think about their own institutions, but Norway and NYC have something of a cross cultural comedy that does a great job of poking fun at their petty bureaucrats and their overbearing ways. "Lillyhammer" was originally a Norwegian sitcom idea that sometime Sopranos actor (and E Street Band guitarist) Steven Van Zandt became involved with as the star.

Available on Netflix. We got hooked and are awaiting the second season's episodes. The treatment of the decent but overbearing Police chief mooching goodies at a citizen's table while confiscating the rifle in the room lest they be tempted to hunt the wolf who had killed a child's sheep was telling, was was the Employment Department functionary who misused their position in a number of ways. Even petty power corrupts.

George Rebane

PaulE 231pm - It would be naive to expect a public announcement of abandoning a long standing national healthcare system. It won't happen - ever. Instead, as I have argued, the services will suffer a thousand cuts. Any program which demands an ever increasing share of the budget is not sustainable. Things not sustainable will not be sustained (you can write that down). The Economist also makes it clear that for the last 20 years all Nordics have been turning to the right to solve their social and economic problems - for such solutions socialism provided the chirping of crickets.

Thanks for the tip Greg (237pm).

Paul Emery

So the Economist got it wrong when they wrote

"The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations."

Paul Emery


To put it simple the Nordic countries have no intention to abandon their national health care programs. That's your editorial opinion and not from this article


Here's some insights on what Corporations actually pay in taxes

"A comprehensive study released on Thursday found that 280 of the biggest publicly traded American companies faced federal income tax bills equal to 18.5 percent of their profits during the last three years — little more than half the official corporate rate of 35 percent and lower than their competitors in many industrialized countries......American corporations are paying a smaller share of taxes than in previous decades. They paid a total of $191 billion in federal income taxes in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service said, representing about 1.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. That is down from about 6 percent during the 1950s (although some of the decline is because a smaller percentage of businesses now file as corporations). "

George Rebane

PaulE 245pm - we don't know whether The Economist is right or not in its pronouncement. No one has yet to put in place an entitlement program that doesn't wind up eating an increasing share of the national budget. When we find one that satisfies the beneficiaries and is at least stable, then we can see a ray of hope. Please don't misunderstand, I have never said that such an entitlement (redistribution) program cannot be found. Instead, I have recommended a very large one myself. But I can say with complete confidence that no declared socialist political party will ever emplace a sustainable entitlement program.


Paul, I await your thoughts on injecting market mechanisms into Education in California.

Regarding healthcare, we abandoned the free market in the US beginning in WWII when the unintended side effect of income tax law began our long march to employer provided health care, where the individual has little control over just what is being purchased or for how much. Obamacare makes it worse.

Paul Emery

But George isn't that what the Economist article implies? (sustainable entitlement program)

Paul Emery

Gregory 3:03 PM

That's one of my favorite topics. I am a strong supporter of Charter Schools and a type of Voucher system. For example the Yuba Charter School and School for the Arts are thriving in Nevada County while most schools are suffering from declining enrollment. That's because parents are offered a choice. I can be convinced about vouchers to private schools if the voucher amount was the total tuition.

A good question is how do we evaluate school success? Most testing systems are government mandated and managed and that certainly takes away an independent look at their success especially if we were to use vouchers to fund tuition to private schools. As a strong supporter of Waldorf education I believe strongly in what Rudolf Steiner writes that education is a function of a culture not the government.

George Rebane

PaulE 338pm - The implication is there, but the supportive data doesn't exist. And a more careful reading of the article's (editorial's) conclusion tells the reader that, in spite of these positive results, to "sharpen" the performance of the welfare state require that the govt is "willing to root out corruption and vested interests." Such efforts are hard to come by, especially in governments willing to do neither.

The larger follow-on survey article in The Economist tells us that the successes the Nordics achieve is primarily due to their focus on quantitative results, and not on pursuing ideological shibboleths which are the norm in progressive America.

But with all the good stuff we can learn from the Nordics, they still have the most serious of socio-economic problems, they don't have a wealth creating system that can sustain their growth and cultural diversification (which is an incipient disaster). The Economist summarizes, "Despite all of its entrepreneurial energy, the Nordic region still finds it hard to turn start-ups into enduring companies."


"I can be convinced about vouchers to private schools if the voucher amount was the total tuition."

Paul, at the moment, in California, payments to charter schools don't even get close to the total subsidies that the main public schools get. All your "total tuition" proscription does is ensure the most expensive private schools (that may or may not be better) are out of the reach of the middle classes.

The Yuba River Charter does have its proponents, and I can understand why such a community of learners might eschew standardized assessments, since by the state Academic Performance Index the school is at the absolute bottom of the list of its 100 most similar schools...

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