4 thoughts on “Podcast No. 77: Midterm Elections and Obama

  1. There are a lot more examples of overfunded governments that produce nothing and are wastefull.

    Less taxes = more freedom.

    Take the tax deduction one gets from donating to a charity of their choice. That choice equals freedom. I choose to give donations to the salvation army because they are responsible with their funds and represent values I like. Now you as an atheist must just hate that a christian group gets a pass on taxes which prevents your government from collecting and redistributing my hard earned money through your expensive government run welfare system. You see the salvation army is not going to give my donation to any person who wants money. They vet people to make sure they want to better themselves and lift themselves out of a dependent situation. The welfare system, well, we know how well the government welfare system is doing at making people better… In fact, when is the last time you’ve heard someone say the welfare system has helped lift them up to where they can “walk on their own?” I never have, but I hear all the time from people who have used private programs like MN teen challenge or Newgate Education Center to help lift themselves up and not be dependent on the government.

    I get the impression you want to grow government and make more people dependent on the government rather than trying to make people self sufficient. People will be strong on their own when you give them incentive. But if you sit there in your self righteous throne and hand out food and resources like a good well behaved government bureaucrat, people will never grow themselves and will be the so called mindless drones you claim them to all be.

    The govt offering 2 years of unemployment is just irresponsible. A relative of mine has been employed for 40 years as a contractor. But the one time he has a gap in jobs (housing construction at it’s lowest in 50 years), is laid off in the middle of winter and they state says he is not allowed to collect unemployment which he has been paying in for 40 years. Whereas some person at a pizza joint gets fired for stealing from the employer and collects unemployment for 2 years. The modern incarnation of unemployment is just another form of wealth redistribution rather than a temporary stop-gap method of helping someone get over a bump in their life.

    If you really want the little guy to prosper and not have the “fucking rich” screw them over, get the government our of the little guys way. All of this government control over every aspect of business makes it impossible for the little guy to open a business and maintain the required legal records. What needs to happen is the simplification of tax code and regulatory environment for small businesses.

  2. But this is a debate of degree. We need taxes, I’m sure you agree and we need regulation, to some extent, I’m sure you agree. I will happily agree with you that the government does some things poorly or in a way that makes matters worse. I will support efforts to call these out and fix or eliminate them.

    But we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We have succeeded in large part in this nation because we do have a well-funded federal government. Go to Mexico if you want to see what a low tax rate buys you. I am astounded that people such as yourself can never acknowledge the importance of the federal government in the success of this nation – success funded by taxation.

    I also know that you like having clean water come out of your tap and that you enjoy knowing the food you eat has been properly handled. Again, visit a 3rd world country if you want to realize how rare these benefits are.

    I would be a bit more convinced by your argument if you acknowledged that there is a sweet spot for taxation and a sweet spot for regulation and if we have less than that we do worse. ‘Cause I’ve never had a Rightie come to this blog and admit that.

    M.

  3. I’ll admit there is a sweet spot for taxation and regulation. The problem is we are moving further away from those sweet spots. I think what needs to happen is more usage taxes for the public services we get. i.e. gas taxes should be adjusted to pay for roads, bicycle registration to pay for bike paths…

    People who use resources should pay for them. I.E. light rail should not have the ride cost subsidized by tax payers who will NEVER use it. Stadiums for sports should be paid for by those who benefit from it like business near by, TV networks who gather revenue from advertisers and ticket purchasers. I find it interesting the way minnegasco is doing the inverse block pricing for natural gas. If you use less you pay less.

    I dislike the way income taxes work in that when a person works more they pay more. Working more and more is tough and the bigger my paycheck is, then the higher percentage the government gets. It’s an incentive to only work so much before the laws of diminishing returns kick me in the butt.

    Been there done that in a third world country. I understand the role government plays. I really appreciate the good job my county does in keeping costs under control with regards to infrastructure, education and social services. I have nice low property taxes. But over regulation like that new safety bill authored by Amy K. was not fully thought out before implementation. Why not fully vet a bill and examine it’s implications before passing into law? Because of that law you know Estes had to put so many of it’s products through expensive and time consuming testing for lead when the chances of balsa wood containing lead is zero and who the hell eats a plastic chute from an estes kit? The spirit of that law is good, but the way it was put in place was poorly done. Same goes for the health care bill. There is no reason any able bodied adult should be able to get free health care.

    As a rocketeer you should know the implications of over-regulation with regards to high power rocket motors. Lucky for us we had nice hard rocket science on our side of that fight.

  4. How should we figure out where the sweet spot is? This is perhaps my prime problem with the “small government” rhetoric of the Right. It would be lovely if we could set a certain policy, run the experiment and then rewind, use a different policy, run the experiment again, etc. and really truly find out the right amount of taxes and regulation to make for the strongest economy. We can’t do that.

    So instead, like astronomers, we have to observe different experiments in action and then try to normalize them somehow and get our insights that way. What are the other experiments? They are the other countries that are also experimenting with varying degrees of taxes and regulations.

    The odd part about this is that the US is an anomaly. There is no Westernized country more conservative than us. There are none with lower taxes. When you look at the other thriving economies of the world they all, every one of them, have more taxes and regulation.

    The Right likes to point to this and say – see! We are on to something here in the USA! Less taxes and less regulation make for a stronger economy. Unfortunately that is a statistically insignificant sample of one. There are a lot of other factors that have contributed to the strength of the American economy besides the conservatism of the last few decades.

    So I’m glad we agree – there is a sweet spot for the level of taxes and regulation. You think we have erred in one direction and me the other. I really try to imagine your view as correct. I do trust people to look after their own best interest. I do see how the government screws some things up.

    The reason I end up disagreeing with you is this: homo sapiens rose above the bloody fray of survival of the fittest and started cooperating in larger and larger groups. While the law of the jungle certainly applies, a stronger “law” has led to the great success of our species: cooperation. We all do better when we all do better. I can’t escape this ideology and economists have been unable to prove me wrong. I think we should put our efforts into making government better (for we are the government, after all) rather than trying to dismantle it.

    I have written elsewhere on this blog why I think progressive taxation is fair and smart. Moving from taxes to fees is regressive. For certain things, I think it is viable and useful. But our government is more than a service provider. I want the best government money can buy. I really think you should want that, too.

    I also agree that Amy’s child safety law had ridiculous unintended consequences.

    Thanks for the great conversation.

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