Carping Comment – Seriousoly

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a “Carping Comment”. Most folks figured out fairly quickly that I didn’t “Do” that whole ‘insult for effect’ or snark and snipe scene. That being polite was THE most important thing I look for, and anyone’s actual political or otherwise opinions are not even on my filter radar.

But some folks are slower learners than others. And for a few, snark and snide, insult and bate are all they have. Going, always, for the cheap snicker, never for the content. Looking for the “angle” to exploit, with typical Troll tactics, is just what they want. (Things like asking snide questions that take only a second or two to type, but where the ‘defense’ takes a 1/2 hour or 2.) Well, we’ve got another one of those.

From “Serioso” on

My answer to that sort of “Carping Comment” is to go ahead and answer it, but instead of the usual “20 seconds of snark consumes an hour to respond” so they ‘win’ angle, to use it instead as an abject lesson of what Carping Comments do wrong and why they often sit in the “Moderation queue” for a long time, or sometimes are just ignored. Since they contribute nothing, and are clearly aimed at emotional hurt and time suckage. Instead, I make a posting out of them “for educational purposes”.

For those wondering, I’ve now got a grand total of 17 in the ‘pending moderation’ queue for such issues. The oldest dates from May 2010 (and I’ve still not seen reason to deal with it…) so I make that about 3 or 4 / year. Not exactly a big load. And yes, I ought to have dealt with the others. But life has priorities, and shoveling Dreck or dealing with Snark is not high on the list.

But Serioso is different from most. Usually has some clue, even if a ways misplaced, and generally trainable (can stay polite for about a year at a time before backsliding into snark land), and often there are some worthwhile points to be looked over. So usually his stuff just gets a fairly rapid response and goes on through. Some other times, not so much.

With that lead in, here is the Carping Comment in the entirety, then I’ll break bits out to “answer”:

It amuses me to think that if you were my pupil and I your teacher I’d have to give your effort here a C at best. No mention of any actual facts! For example, what was the maximum marginal tax rate when JFK managed to get lower rates through Congress? What rate was agreed to? What is the maximum marginal tax rate under Obama? And, by the way, what was the rate of Federal tax as a percentage of GDP under Kennedy? How does that compare with today’s?

You can rant about today’s socialist state all you want, but the numbers say the USA was a far more egalitarian country back in the 1960s. I’m afraid you’ve been seduced by propaganda. Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time watching Fox ‘News’?

OK, the analysis, IMHO:

“It amuses me to think that if you were my pupil and I your teacher I’d have to give your effort here a C at best. No mention of any actual facts!”

So right out the gate we get a “faint damning”. Just the way to make someone feel appreciated and be nice…

(yes, I’m free to /snark; in return in Carping Comments land).

Then a jab at “no facts”. Completely missing that this is an opinion piece. What I said:

So we have yet another “Does So!” vs “Does Not!” over something that is artificial slime and at most a useless distraction from everything that matters. (Thanks again, Saul A…. /sarc;)

So what’s the truth, IMHO?

Obama does NOT love the America of our history, that has existed up until his election, and that most of the USA does love. Obama DOES love the America of his dreams, as he sees it could be after his “Fundamental Transformation” to its character is completed.

I “toss rocks” at Saul Alinsky in a clearly labeled /sarc; comment, aimed at the fact that we have as a society degraded into constant insult and attack, IMHO largely due to the large number of folks following his “Rules For Radicals” that encourages such impolite and attack oriented strategy in social discourse. I then, clearly, state that I’m giving my opinion. (Note to Serioso: IMHO means In My Humble OPINION. Make a note of it, or I’ll have to give you a D in listening skills…)

So his complaint is that I’m not giving the facts he wants in a statement of my OPINION.

So how can one possibly answer that in just a few seconds without giving Troll Food to the Troll behaviours?

OK, well move on…

He then makes a half assed attempt at an argument, but all of it in the form of question. A very common Troll tactic; designed to consume LOTS of your time while never actually stating a position that needs to be defended. Implying a position, but never actually taking one. Tossing question hand grenades, then running.

We’ll skip that for now, but come back in a moment. Lets skip on down to the close for the closing snark.

“I’m afraid you’ve been seduced by propaganda. Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time watching Fox ‘News’?”

An “insult to the person” with asserting that I’m weak willed and subject to swallowing propaganda. Never mind that a few dozen times I’ve pointed out that “insults to the person” are to be avoided, and many times directly told Serioso that (under various pseudonyms he’s used over the years).

But, to the point: No, I have not been “seduced by propaganda”. My positions are entirely my own and I spend a great deal of time and effort working out the reality behind what is presented in the swill that constitutes “the media” on any given day.

As has been said many times here, and Serioso knows, I read / browse widely. From Russia Today to Aljazera (who both are often more unbiased on some things than the US or UK press – just watch out for their favorite personal biases) to BBC and a few dozen others. (The Indian news sources are often interesting, and I quoted one recently on that posting about Mars: had in it. Hardly the stuff of someone stuck on one news feed…)

But, to the particulars… I’d stated:

I think this is largely a tempest in a teapot, but I’m going to stick an oar in the water anyway.

CNN and the Loony Side Of Left are doing their usual character assassination on Rudy Giuliani. FOX is all over the way the Lame Stream Press has tried to use this to “frame” Scott Walker as either out of touch, or gutless (unwilling to comment), or a closet believer that Obama has the claimed faults.

So first off, I clearly stated I think the whole thing is highly over rated (“tempest in a tea pot”) and that it was not really very important. Again, hardly the stuff of one who is “seduced” by propaganda or otherwise… But Serioso has a D- behavior in reading skills and comprehension (and since I do teach college, I feel it’s OK to give a grade. I also teach English As A Second Language now, so feel qualified to comment on reading comprehension… ) Then I go on to, GASP!, reference CNN first. I then (double GASP!) point out that FOX is mostly doing a mud toss at other news media (who likely deserve it at this point) but without my endorsement of the report. Simply saying “this is what they are doing” is not endorsement. Setting the stage is what it is called. Showing the two sides POV and how they contrast.

Now, in fairness, Serioso can’t make out that in this sentence “CNN and the Loony Side Of Left” are two different subjects. CNN is the news program, and the LSOL are some of their guests / interviewees. CNN often shows folks they don’t endorse, so it is NOT an assertion that CNN is the “Loony Side Of Left”, only that on many other forums, and from some of the folks CNN has shown, they are BOTH doing a character assasination on Rudy. (Maybe that D- reading comprehension needs to be lower… if I have to explain this…) That FOX is largely just doing a knee jerk “Is Not!” in being “all over it” is not an endorsement of them, either. I repeat, again, here, my evaluation of ALL of them, including CNN and FOX:

“So we have yet another “Does So!” vs “Does Not!” over something that is artificial slime and at most a useless distraction from everything that matters.”

A slam on both of them for doing stupid “does so vs does not” non-journalism. What I called “artificial slime” and a “distraction from everything that matters”.

How that gets turned into an endorsement of Fox is a bit beyond me. But the “insult, question and run” Troll Tactics don’t need to make sense, they just need to sow confusion and consume time and effort. And that is why I generally suppress such things.

Finally, to the one specific in the “insult and run”:

“spending too much time watching Fox ‘News’?”

I must agree with putting news in quotes. I find it terribly annoying that they are largely opinion and only a little bit of news (and that news largely only during east coast normal business hours). For that reason, I watch far more CNN than I do Fox. Yes, it’s true. Once you have heard Hannity repeatedly talking over his “guests” and raising a ruckus, and once you’ve spent 20 minutes trying to understand what anyone is saying on some of the other shows (where they have 5 guests and the host all shouting at the same time) it “gets old quick”. O’Reilly is a bit better in that he keeps things orderly and you can actually hear both sides, but it only takes a little time to figure out what his rant of the day is about. So I’ll “drop in”, figure out the topic du jour, and then often move on. And, given my current cable feed, that means to CNN. (Though I often come back for The Five for their fairly orderly discussions between sides with humor, and if I see Juan Williams on a segment hang out to find out his views as he has a fair perspective.)

I miss my BBC and Al Jazeera news feeds. As it is now, I only get them via the computer instead of from the TV, but that will change before too long. Heck, I even used to drop in on pMSNBC to see what the latest rant from the Loony Side Of Left was, but they are not available much now either…

So no, I’m not “spending too much time watching Fox”, I’m spending too much time watching CNN as they have actual news (like they cut in for real breaking news events around the world) and give me at least a little of what I used to get from The BBC and Al Jazeera. (Russia Today not so much – I have to get them via computer too. Though lately I’ve been watching Brazlian news as I was teaching Brazilian kids…)

But that bit of “at Fox” snark takes far longer to “answer” than to toss the question, so it becomes Carping Comment fodder.

The rest of that posting was, largely, my synopsis of a few decades (about 5 now) of watching our economic and political systems. It is largely the product of my own observations, and did not come from some other source, so no, no links. Now, back at the specifics about that:

For example, what was the maximum marginal tax rate when JFK managed to get lower rates through Congress? What rate was agreed to? What is the maximum marginal tax rate under Obama? And, by the way, what was the rate of Federal tax as a percentage of GDP under Kennedy? How does that compare with today’s?

You can rant about today’s socialist state all you want, but the numbers say the USA was a far more egalitarian country back in the 1960s.

Really comes in two parts. The last line makes a bald assertion that America today is more “egalitarian” than it was in the 1960’s. Now were did THAT come from? Did I assert that the 1960s were MORE egalitarian? Did I assert ANYTHING about “egalitarian”? Have I ever even stated an opinion about “egalitarian”? It’s not very high on my list of things to think about.

In short, this comes down to a Bald Assertion ( I note in passing that no evidence was given by Serioso for this assertion, while he tosses insult at me for not having evidence for my opinion ) that “more egalitarian” is better and that (somehow unclear) I must be against it and something I said must have been supportive of a less egalitarian world. Finally, in some even more unclear way, this is supposedly connected to Socialism. An economic system that is not particularly egalitarian either – look at how well ‘party leaders’ made out in various Socialist Paradise countries & don’t forget that Lang Type and “3rd Way” governments like Italian Fascism of W.W.II are also Socialist and the “Crony Capitalism” of them is hardly “egalitarian”. So just to make it perfectly clear:

I am personally in favor of an egalitarian world, but one that is egalitarian in opportunities and not in government mandated outcomes. This favor of egalitarian opportunities is largely the reason I’m against most forms of Socialism, as they want, IMHO, to largely make folks equal in poverty and oppression of choice. I’m much more in favor of Libertarian and Classical Liberal ideals, as the allow anyone to rise to greatness. (See the long list of “from the garage to $Millionaire” stories in American history). BTW, I’m largely in that same boat. Dad & Mom arrived in California in a beat up old Ford with about $10 in the pocket just after W.W.II. Everything else has been “up from nothing” because of equality of opportunity. Now, I see those opportunities being squashed at every turn by Central Authority of a Socialist bent and feel sorrow for the young war vet of today trying to do the same thing. Oh, BTW, they had 2 young children in the car when they arrived too…

As per my assertion that the present form of government in the USA is Socialist: Well, it is. That’s not a rant, that’s just an observation of the status of things. I’m a trained Economist and we have a marginally Lange Type Socialism. That moment came when GM was prevented from the normal bankruptcy resolution (that does NOT mean the end of GM, only the end of GM Managers and Stockholders as the bond holders take over and decide what to do with THEIR ownership) and the government took over an ownership position. We have a Social Welfare state, with government mandated health care and massive government payments of all sorts of “transfer payments” to folks. Obama is clearly more enamored of a full on Marxist economy, but Lange Type is about as far as he can reach at the moment. Government control of industry, but indirectly via massive regulation. Oh, and don’t forget the “wet kiss” to labor in the form of a large grant of new GM stock. Right out of the Socialism 101 playbook.

Now, once again, just to make my personal position abundantly clear (since some folks have low reading comprehension scores…) I’m not a free markets uber alles capitalist. It “has issues”. Monopoly practices is one (actually more like dozens, but…) along with the tendency for massive wealth to corrupt governments and buy special treatment. I’m just not seeing any risk of that breaking out any time soon. The “Mixed Economy” of the ’60s wasn’t really all that bad, IMHO, especially compared with the Robber Barons of the 1800s. (Yes, their were some – please don’t rant at me that they did not exist. Go read the history of Standard Oil and the Rockefellers instead. They are the reason we have anti-trust laws today.) In fact, my major reason for complaint about our current form of Socialism Lite is that it is subject to the same kind of Crony Capitalism and “Wealth For The Well Connected Businesses” as was the Italian Fascists, the National State Socialists, and all the others who have tried it. It is LESS egalitarian and LESS free.

“3rd Way Socialism” depends on concentration of power (and through that, wealth) in the hands of a small number of businesses that are easier for the Government to regulate. It is MUCH easier to get the 10 Too Big To Fail bankers in a room and threaten them than to try that with 10,000 bankers in local banks.

I’m 100% in favor of Absolute Minimum But Extant Government Regulation. Largely just forbidding (and Policing) monopoly and oligopoly practices and various other “unfair” practices. That would include, BTW, many labor union practices once they get monopoly power in the labor market in a sector. (Look at the absolutely outrageous wages paid to dock workers on the West Coast, largely because they can hold $Trillions of trade hostage. Last I looked, and that was a couple of decades back, folks were paid about $150,000 / year for doing simple driving / loading type jobs).

But again, you see that even a minimal answer takes way longer than to lob the snark question…

Then Serioso wants to go into some kind of argument about marginal tax rates. Why is completely left absent, and what he thinks is the “correct” state is also absent. Missing, too, is the fact that the Fed tax take has been roughly constant at about 18% regardless of tax RATES. Laffer Curve seems to not be in his wheel house. But I lived through that time. The top rates were far more crushing than now, so folks found all sorts of ways to not pay them. Now there are fewer dodges, but the net take is about the same. In all cases we’re on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve, and a cut in tax take would stimulate the moribund economic growth we have now ( about 2%, maybe, but we have bogus inflation numbers that likely make that a real 0% growth rate).

All of this from my “thumbnail” reprise of Economic History in the USA:

The simple fact is that the America of our constitution died some time ago. I remember it, in a hazy kind of way, from the ’50s with a few echos holding on into the ’60s ( even John F. Kennedy believed in things like lower taxes to increase prosperity ); but even that is a faded version post Progressive Era. The ’70s and ’80s had ongoing erosion of that America but with a brief resurgence under Reagan, and by the late ’90s we were in the full embrace of “Progressive” views. (Hillary once said she was not a “Liberal” but a “Progressive”…) Those progressive and socialist views are antithetical to the fundamental nature of the America of our Constitution. No two ways about it.

Note that the ENTIRE reference to Kennedy is a recognition that he understood we were on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve, and did something about it, and it worked. Compare that to our present government that is constantly whining for “More Taxes” and not recognizing that we are way past the top of the Laffer Curve. None of this, BTW, has anything to do with me, what I want, or what I would advocate. It is simply a direct observation of the extant reality that we’ve spent far more time on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve than on the right side, and if you are raking in 18% or so at The Federal level, that’s it. No more is available. All you do from that point on with more tax RATES and more regulations and more hidden, special, or indirect taxes is squash economic production and lower the available taxable wealth to steal. So it’s a stupid game to play. Yet both the Democrats and Republicans would rather choose WHO gets screwed than stop the screwage and get more tax revenues. Sigh.

(It’s not a hypothetical either. When we’ve cut tax rates, tax revenues go up. Clear historical evidence that we’re on the downhill side of the Laffer Curve.)

So yes, Serioso, Under Kennedy top marginal tax rates were higher than now. No, that doesn’t change anything. No, raising them will NOT give more Federal tax revenue, nor will it make the world more “egalitarian”. We’ve run all those ‘experiments’ before and the result is less tax take, weaker economies, fewer jobs, and more wealth disparity. The reason is dirt simple: If I’m worth $Billions like Gates or worth $Millions like Hillary, I hire a herd of tax lawyers and found my personal charities and trusts; then legally put all the money out of reach. If I work for a living, I’m out of a job and can’t hire a lawyer because folks are not founding companies to build things, they are too busy fighting legal battles with the government. (Again, not hypotheticals. This is what has happened in the past. I was alive then and remember seeing it. A few times.) I don’t have to LIKE it to know that it just IS what it is.

None of which has much of anything to do with the original posting, that mostly just was pointing out that JFK understood the Laffer Curve as did Ronald Reagan, but neither the Democrats or Republicans of today seem to have a clue that unless and until government is shrunk, and by a fair amount, they will be forced to tax more than can be supported and be squashing economic prosperity (thus curtailing what any of them can do for whatever political goal).

Government does not create, it consumes, and once consumption is too high, there’s a big drop in production; and that means ALL parties of ALL political stripes end up with less bucks to steal. (Lest anyone wonder about our present massive spending and that being larger, so how can what I’m saying make sense: Remember that we are borrowing about $Trillion of it a year AND we are stealth taxing via inflation at the same time. In no case are we able to tax enough to support our present government size. Simply not possible. And no amount of government borrowing can stimulate that sucked dry body of the economy enough to make it rise from the death bed full of blood and vigor again. The only solution is take the damn leaches off of it and give it time to heal itself.)

I note in passing that on the financial channel (CNBC) there was a fair amount of talk about how with “60% of the GDP” being “the consumer” long term outlook was not good for the USA. I’ve not validated that number, but IF it is true, we have way more consumption than production going on. That’s a formula for collapse.

So it just doesn’t matter what the marginal rates were under Kennedy (up around 60% for many but most around 40%, with near 90% for the very rich, IIRC. Looking at ; this link that looks about right). Present marginal top rate is somewhere around 35%, not that it matters. Various countries have found that about a 10% tax rate generates the most total revenue. Anything beyond about 20% just gets you into the land of ever more lawyers and ever less tax revenue. Why one would want to argue that we need to do more tax rate increases that won’t work, and have been shown repeatedly to not work, and increase inequality while not working; well, that’s very unclear to me. Simply put, until the government cuts total taxation AND sees a real drop in total revenues, they are on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. By Definition. Sorry, nothing I can do about that. Yes, there are dozens of examples world wide showing this, and showing that the rate needs to be in the low double digits to be near the peak of the curve. Not particularly relevant to my OPINION piece that states Obama is a bit daft on taxation, though.

In Conclusion

Oh, and one more minor point. Per the USA being more “egalitarian” back in the ’60s. Um, maybe more equal in poverty, but not more well off. I got my first vaccinations at the Farm Labor Camp a couple of miles out of town (provided by the county for ‘free’) because we could not pay a doctor. There were thousands of folks who lived out of their cars and drove from town to town harvesting crops. You have no idea how abject poverty looks if you have not seen that. “Grapes Of Wrath” level of poverty. I’ve watched the “bottom rung” of our country rise from so poor a dirt sandwich looked good to the point where “the poor” have color TVs and subsidized housing and more food than my parents dreamed of. (Rationing in W.W.II England was not a rich diet and nobody got obese on it. My Mum told me about it, and about saving farthings until they could buy one lump of coal to heat their home, at least for a few hours out of the week.).

We are so far away from real poverty these days that obesity is an “epidemic”. Yeah, that’s really unequal…

Yes, we now have folks like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Maurice Strong and more who are all incredibly wealthy. Oh, and they are also largely benefactors of the “Friends Of Government” 3rd Way Socialism racket. So tell you what, as soon as you have THEM getting off that gravy train (and Algore and all the NSF grant fed AGW sycophants and…) have their snout out of the 3rd Way Money Laundry, then maybe we can make a dent in whatever “inequality” exists today.

Until then, this son of a dirt farmer and a waitress who has had to work for every dollar he’s ever spent will thank you very much to keep your socialist snouts out of my hard earned money.

Oh, and presently unemployed and looking for my next job. Hopefully before the next crop of bills is due. So no, not a member of the Rich Upper Crust. More the “Middle America” making ends meet class. That same middle class that has barely clawed out of the bottom rung and has seen far too often the Progressive Limousine American-Liberals wanting to push us back down into it via taxation in the name of ‘equality’ for everyone else but them…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to Carping Comment – Seriousoly

  1. craigm350 says:

    That start was a dead give away! I have a couple of comments pending too and I though I was slack, but 2010?! Lol.

    I do like Pointman’s baiting approach. Did it once myself and the troll just couldn’t help the pathetic parting shots designed to draw me back in. I spotted that technique quite early in warmist comms (when I was one of them I add) and it reminded me of what I saw in many political online arenas, some of them obviously using the script for talking points. Once you have your head round the Jekyll and Hyde approach it is actually quite funny. I think most of us bloggers have enough crap to deal with caused by life. Sometimes it is fun to allow someone to walk into a carefully laid word trap just to bring their ego and assumptions down a peg or two – or just wind them up a bit. Not sure of it’s narcissism, ignorance or intolerance of other views but I’ve seen it too many times where someone else’s experience is marginalised and ignored so they can reel off some spiel they know by rote but have no comprehension of. I prefer a softer approach that engages grey matter, something to chew not gag on. Listening also helps tremendously except to shouty idiots, especially the ones playing victim. I can forgive emotion not shouting down by aural volume or total volume.

    Maybe it’s just living life a bit as you observe more and get quite a few assumptions knocked out of you – thankfully sometimes it’s a gentle nudge rather than a hit to solar plexus. It helps being more relaxed and supple to ideas not rigidly opposed (shouty idiots aside). Bracing before a fall tends to hurt more. :)

    Anyway thanks for sharing. Enjoyed it, even if I think you’ve (ish) wasted your time not leaving in the awaiting approval queue. Then again if I took my own advice I’d probably still be lurking and would never have bothered blogging or engaging.

    Damn nothing is ever easy is it? :)

    p.s. Just seen you replied to me on an earlier thread re:earthschool. Damn mobile WP app keeps missing replies. Will read it tomorrow. My leaba is calling me.

  2. Ralph B says:

    First off, MFTC is my favorite blog on the internet. There is so much great stuff to read and learn here…from henges, to Bond events, to camp stoves, etc etc etc.
    It is unfortunate you feel the need to respond to trolls, your blogging minutes are IMHO too valuable to burn on such endeavors. When someone disagrees with you we have all seen you engage in civil discourse. But trolls…meh, flush them away. Lets get to stuff like coelacanths, Tunguska, or global warming.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Regarding the “old days” and the likes of John D. Rockefeller and Standard oil. Anyone who was a little light on history of that period would probably get a good and entertaining over view of that period of our history by watching the history channel special series “The Men Who Built America”. It is well done and really helps tie together all the major players of that period and some of the sub plots that were behind major historical events.

    I had a pretty good history background from school and learned some things about that period I never knew (or never knew the associations between events I had been taught about).

    It also has some interesting parallels with today’s events. (oil pipe lines etc.)

    It gives you a view of those movers and shakers as people rather than just names in a book, and you realize how in many ways they mimic some modern movers and shakers like Bill Gates, and the predatory nature of most of the top 0.1% in any culture. They by nature act much differently than most people. Be they an oil sheik or a modern capitalist they are often very similar in their take no prisoners approach to problems and their very Alpha Male style of conduct.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    Emmm….. someone told me “Don’t Feed the TROLLs” ;-)

    If you don’t feed them they wither and die off or at least move on to find a new lollypop. lol pg

  5. Serioso says:

    A quibble, if you please. When you say “When we’ve cut tax rates, tax revenues go up. Clear historical evidence that we’re on the downhill side of the Laffer Curve” you are making what I am pretty sure is a factual error. Except in the case of the Kennedy tax cut (from 92%+ to 70%), tax cuts have always resulted in reduced revenues.

    [Reply: Well, no. As just ONE example:

    If people respond to incentives — as they always do — then changes in the tax rate and tax revenues may be quite different, and can even go in opposite directions. For example, when it comes to the personal income tax, did the Reagan administration “cut taxes”? Well, tax rates certainly fell sharply: the top personal income tax rate went from 70 percent in 1980 down to 28 percent in 1988. However, during the Reagan years, tax receipts went up — from $599 billion in fiscal year 1981 to $991 billion in FY 1989 (in historical dollars), an annualized growth rate of 6.5 percent.

    So again, under Reagan, a cut to tax RATES resulted in an increase of tax REVENUES. Was it a ‘tax cut’? That depends on how you define it (as Laffer made clear was the whole point of his bringing up the issue of static vs dynamic scoring). The whole point of the Laffer Curve (named for him by someone else). There are many other examples, especially internationally and including such small things as Hong Kong and IIRC Moldova. -E.M.S. ]

    And a second quibble: Doesn’t ‘socialist’ have something to do with government owning (at least some of) the means of production? Just because a government takes occasional ownership does not qualify it as socialist, as far as I can tell. What does the federal government own today that qualifies it as socialist?

    [ Reply: Well, first you have to ask “which socialism”. Unfortunately there seems to be as many kinds as their are despots willing to exploit the faith that what many competing Evil Bastards want to do will be made better by putting a different bunch of Evil Bastards in charge, or worse, only one. At one far extreme is Communist Socialism (Yes, USSR was Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). At the other far extreme was Fascism and National State Socialism (Yes, the Nazi were in fact Socialists. Just National Socialists. Stalin called them “right wing” as they were not for the one single global Socialism but instead the National Socialists thought socialism could work on a National level. That does not make them a liberal republic…) The Fascist model (and Mussolini was a socialist. has an interesting take on it where the try to define his move to National Socialism as abandoning socialism, but leave out that even unto his death he asserted he was a Socialist. BTW, I’ve read some of his works and he clearly thinks he is a socialist and that his style of central authority leadership in a national context was the way to make socialism succeed.) This was the birth of “3rd Way” socialism that has now mutated into “market socialism”. One of the end cases of Market Socialism is Lange Type Socialism. Even the Wiki admits it is a form:

    Market socialism

    Main article: Market socialism

    Market socialism refers to various economic systems that involve either public ownership and management or worker cooperative ownership over the means of production, or a combination of both, and the market mechanism for allocating economic output, deciding what to produce and in what quantity. In state-oriented forms of market socialism where state enterprises attempt to maximize profit, the profits can fund government programs and services eliminating or greatly diminishing the need for various forms of taxation that exist in capitalist systems.

    Some forms of market socialism are based on neoclassical economic theory, with the aim of attaining pareto efficiency by setting price to equal marginal cost in public enterprises. This form of socialism was promoted by Oskar Lange, Abba Lerner and Fredrick Taylor. Other forms of market socialism are based on classical economics, such as those advocated by Thomas Hodgskin, who viewed interest accumulation, rent and profit as deductions from exchange-value, so that eliminating the capitalist element from the economy would lead to a free-market and socialism. The term market socialism has also been applied to planned economic systems that try to organize themselves partially along market-lines while retaining centralized state ownership of capital.

    Other types of market socialist systems, such as Mutualism, are related to the political philosophy of Libertarian socialism.

    Examples of market socialism include: economic democracy, the Lange Model, the New Economic Mechanism, Ricardian socialism, Liberal socialism and Mutualism.

    Though it can’t bring itself to mention the two unmentionable socialisms of National State Socialism and Fascism (named for the symbol for the Labor Union, core to the method…). Socialism loves to bury the history and its failures. I’ll leave for you to read about all the dozens of other flavors of Socialism. is willing to state the truth:

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.

    It’s that capitalist veneer part that matters. The present fad in global socialism, IMHO, is an attempt to do that same “3rd Way” Socialism but minus the Nationalism and Racism. The idea being that THOSE were the reasons this variety of Socialism failed. Yet Another “This Time For Sure!” magical thinking, again, IMHO. Yet no less a person than Bill Clinton said he was a “3rd Way” advocate.

    That article goes on to explain the mechanism, that you might notice has a lot of similarities to what is presently happening in “3rd Way Progressive” America today:

    Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace.

    So no, “3rd Way” Socialism does not require ownership of assets by the State. However, I’ve refrained from calling the USA socialist right up until we took the first tepid step into clear Lange Type Socialism behaviour. That moment was the ownership position in GM, with the abrogation of bond holder rights, and the political transfer of part of the ownership to the Labor Union. Government ownership of a major industry, for the greater good, with transfer of assets to Labor. Can’t get much more clear than that.

    And while, yes, we’ve slightly moved back from that moment; the policy remains. We are a Lange Type Socialist government, even if only barely and “on the cusp”. (We are clearly well into the “3rd Way” model and there are daily increases in ‘socialism via regulation’ all around us.)

    Is this good, or bad? Frankly, I’m not sure. I can make a decent case for it being good, in moderation. My major complaint is, unfortunately, lethal to the ‘experiment’: Central Authority has always lead to Tyranny, and then to collapse. The only question is how long it takes. If, through Empire and Emperors, it tends to take 1000 years or so to end the Tyranny. If instead through clear dictatorial despots, it is usually one lifetime… which is sometimes shortened surprisingly… Rather like the 1000 year Reich that imploded in a dozen or so, and the Fascists of Italy (that were celebrated in the USA as a great success with Mussolini given a cameo in a movie in Hollywood while the glitterati took him to the best parties… some things never change. Only spurned after he had a ‘hook up’ with Hitler.) Read the 1930s US press on Fascism and Benito – it was a love fest. Oh, and folks like FDR and Wilson were in love with the philosophy and started the USA move down that path. (No, not my opinion, the history. There are volumes on it).

    But the key part of Fascist Socialism was that the government didn’t need to own the means of production as long as through the government it could CONTROL them. So no, it isn’t a strict requirement to own the means of production as long as you can regulate it enough.

    My own view is that the 1% have won the class war, and they blame the rest of us for not trying hard enough. Socialist! HA!

    [Reply: There is no class war. There is a constant struggle of ANYONE in power to retain it. IMHO it doesn’t matter if they are called Emperor, King, President, Dear Leader, Fuhrer, Party Leader, Czar, Prime Minister, or Party Leader. Or even Corporate CEO and Board Member. And they have always “won the war” as long as they are in power. The key feature of the America of our Constitution was that it forbade any powerful central government and so made sure there was no Dear Leader attracted to take over and make it a Tyranny. Thanks to the changes post Civil War, then the added changes from the Progressive 3rd Way movement of the 20s and 30s, that constitution no longer exists. The one we have now promotes the move to Central Authority (and it has happened to a massive degree).

    At present, we have a President who isn’t even bothering to live by the modest limits of the present Constitution (and a Supreme Court that is packed with folks happy to expand government power at any opportunity, damn what the paper actually says.) So we are well on our way to a very strong and very large Central Government with near dictatorial powers and regulation over industry. Unfortunately we know how this movie ends. Constant rants about, and suppression of, Nationalism and Racisim will not fix the fundamental problem of Central Authority and Power leading to Tyranny.

    Now you want to complain that the “1%” are making buckets of money off the deal. Well, so do I. They can work the system, get the contracts and grants, and suck that money like crazy. That is WHY they want “3rd Way Socialism”, so they can get the largess of government. And that is why I do NOT want it. To prevent that “Friends Of Government” largess. The Founders figured the only way to stop that was to prevent the power from existing. They were right and it worked right up until the constitution was changed and the system was broken. We are still trying to find a balance between a herd of Evil Bastards in raw Capitalism and the Few Oligopoly Evil Bastards of “3rd Way Socialism” and The One Great Evil Bastard of Tyranny.

    IMHO, the closest anyone has come is the ‘mixed economy’ of the ’50s. (This says nothing about things like racial or minority discrimination. That is not an economic question, but one of sociology. And yes, it was bad in the ’50s; but IMHO not related to the economic form or government structure, just how some Evil Bastards worked it. The ‘mixed economy’ with the lightest possible regulation is mute on such questions and IMHO would still work well today. (For example, voting rights are not an economic process).

    So, in summary, I suspect we have many areas of agreement (such as that the Evil Bastards need to be somehow stopped from manipulating the system for personal gain). Just I see that being achieved via smaller government not having such power to capture and abuse, and I see the history of Socialism as concentration of power until eventual tyranny and collapse arrives; so not such a good choice. Especially the history of “3rd Way” types are not good. In short, I see governments as way too easy prey for parasitism by the Evil Bastards of the world (see the UN and Global Warming attempt to take over the world economy and steal, er ‘transfer’…, $Hundreds of Billions per year with lots of slop into Evil Bastard pockets) and I see liberty and property rights and limited very low taxation as the best way to let most people have the most liberty and opportunity to succeed. At least, that is how global economic history reflects reality. (Yes, I was required to have Economic History in school too… didn’t like it at the time, but now find the value in it.) E.M.Smith ]

    And now I’m pleased to keep my mouth shut!

    [Reply: It might be better to just keep the mind open, read a fair amount on Economic History with a focus on the various times various Socialisms have been tried, and failed; and especially take a close look at “3rd Way Economics” and the movements of the 20’s and 30’s and the recent resurgence. It might take a lot less of my time finding links and posting material… It isn’t the “mouth shut” that I want, it’s the “understanding of things” coming out of it that I enjoy. So instead of saying “only under Kennedy” you could have take a few minutes to look up the Reagan years. It took me one search phrase and about 4 minutes to find a nice link with decent text. That ought to have been your time spent, not mine.

    Finally, do realize that I have no emotional dislike of socialism as a concept. It is seductive, even to me. But I look at the history, and the clear effects on life and liberty even today in the USA, and find the results offensive and inconsistent with The Story that Socialism sells.

    “There’s always a story. -E.M.Smith” is followed by “Never marry The Story. -E.M.Smith”; and I’ve looked at The Stories of Socialism and found them very very lacking. But it’s a really pretty story, though…
    -E.M.Smith ]

  6. Petrossa says:

    As an aside, the BBC is widely criticized for it’s extremely biased reporting. Multiple sites watch BBC and report their various ways in how they skew facts, under/not report what they don’t like and overemphasize what they do like in the news. and Biased BBC are 2 main frequently updated sites showing quite evenhandedly how the BBC is as trustworthy as Al-Jazeera.

    So i guess you miss the BBC as it once was, years ago, a unbiased trustworthy news reporter.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I miss both. While I really miss the BBC of my short wave listening days of the ’60s and ’70s, and somewhat miss the occasional video BBC would would get in the ’80s; I also miss the clearly biased BBC of the last 1/4 century or so. Bias in news isn’t always a bad thing. By doing “compare and contrast” between several news sources, it clearly highlights the lies and spin. That, then sharpens the ability to see the lies and spin on first sight.

    So The New BBC had nice shows ( hard to call it news…) with nice visuals of places in England, and often other parts of the old Empire ;-) Just don’t ever expect to see any story that is not in line with what The Government wants to push. Now, when a war is being drummed up, and The BBC is running nearly the same story as MSNBC, that’s a clue. Compare that to Al Jazeera (especially for a war being pushed in the Muslim World) and Russia Today and say both CBS and Fox news; now you have a fair idea where each of them is concentrating the spin, and sometimes inserting flat out hard core propaganda lies. (Especially fun when they start ‘calling each other out’ with “that was a lie here’s the actual video” food fights ;-)

    At the end of that, you can pretty much map out who is pushing the war, and figure out why. (If, for example, Al Jazeera is on board with a war in the middle east, then most likely the House Of Saud and a few other potentates are bought in with the British Royals…)

    I guess the point is that my “method” is not to believe any of them at first pass; and only believe bits worked out (mostly from actual video, and preferably many sources of video with different editors and different goals) after a good bit of “compare and contrast”…

    So, for example: The BBC reports Leonard Nimoy passed away. I’ll likely believe that without confirmation or Comp&Cont. They report some Evil Bastard is paying mercenaries to invade and disrupt a neighbor, so we need to have a bit of a war? Well, I’m going to watch The Evil Bastard channel and see what they are saying. And RT for the view of Putin & Friends. And more. Though I’ll still hop over to Fox and a set of whatever is available from (ABC | NBC | CBS | Local) news for a bit of a variety of views on the Leonard Nimoy story… and some confirmation…

    Now knock a few choices out of that mix and it is a lot harder for the C&C to catch it all. Like, right now, the murder of a guy who was hard core against Putin (Boris Memtsov). I’d love to see the RT story on that, but don’t want to spend my computer time on it (CNN is running on the TV in the background right now so I can both audio and visual process on two different things and double my effective time…) and with no BBC to give the “Euro View with HM Filter” don’t get an insight on what Europe might be thinking about it … I’m left with the CNN spin. Oh Well.


    The “baiting” approach is useful if you have the time for it. I don’t. Also the ‘long reply’ usually is a useful ‘posting’ in terms of content on its own, so I see it as worth while.

    For example, see the reply from Serioso just above. It’s now about 80% my comments and quotes on economic forms and socialisms. Useful as an introduction / reference points as it stands, and likely a bit educational for many. I see that as more positive than ‘baiting’ and bickering. YMMV.

    The comment held since 2010 is not really all that bad a one, just on a thread where I was being repeatedly dumped on and jumped on prior to working out a ‘method’ to deal with it. Just too tired at that time to ‘deal with it’ and it ‘aged out’ of relevance. I’ve left it there to remind me not to do that again, and deal with most things much more quickly. Then there are 4 from the same person in 2011 who had a chip on his shoulder and I just didn’t have time to cope with the rants. Then there are about 4 from M. Simon recently as he’s continued to try to work M.J. comments into all sorts of threads despite my repeated requests not to. It’s his passion and ‘hobby horse’, but not mine, and I’ve only just recently (and barely) gotten OManuel to put more variety in his comments and not do the same pro-forma ‘hobby horse’ comment on every thread. I don’t need a second hobby horse to work on… (I’m still thinking of making a M.J. posting where M. Simon can have his say, but every time I get close, there’s more in the queue from him and I get ‘off my feed’ on it…)

    Oh, and there’s another one from Serioso from about a year ago that was phrased more like a direct letter to me, but I’ve not felt motivated enough to deal with it as I don’t see a whole lot of ‘value added’ I can put in it. Maybe I could just add it to this thread ;-)

    @Ralph B:

    Glad you like it!

    Serioso is only marginally a Troll. I’ve gone out of my way to say “Troll like behaviours” for a reason. I find value in the response to his comments and think that was worth my time (or it would still be in the queue…) I think he truly does hold his beliefs and with some reason; just sometimes not enough background work done to see the full picture. I.e. liking The Story and not “digging here” into a lot of known background and history.

    So yes, the ‘troll like behaviours’ is an irritant and the ‘toss questions and run’ approach is a bit of a time sync; but many folks share his POV, so it is worth it at times to make an exposition of what is wrong or missing in them. He’s also generally polite about it all, and, as noted above, that’s my No.1 requirement. (No.2 is don’t waste large swaths of my time… that’s the one were we are more prone to ‘dancing’ about it… but sometimes it isn’t a waste of time. IMHO like this one).

    @Larry Ledwick:

    Yes. That’s why I call them all, collectively, Evil Bastards. There’s actually a fairly high percentage of Sociopaths and Psychopaths in the very top ranks. It takes a complete lack of conscience to destroy someone else, their company, and all their employees for personal gain. I’ve worked with such folks. Probably part of why I’m not in ‘upper management’ ;-)

    There are some very nice folks there too; but not surprisingly, they are “facultative Evil Bastards”. I have even managed to do it a few times. Just I feel bad afterwards ;-) I’m able to cope well with feeling lousy, so for a while made a living (when Silicon Valley was imploding) as the ‘undertaker’ doing “shutdowns” of companies. Clean up after the failure to thrive… Then “moved on” to other things. But watching the VP Lawyer rip a new one for his direct report VP Marketing for a boneheaded decision (about $20 Million a year of mistake) was “enlightening”. He was masterful in shredding the guy’s ego and self image… made me glade I’d never screwed up …


    I don’t see this as “feeding” quite so much as “electric fence around the feeder and look how they react!” ;-)

    That, and providing something of value for others to see.

    @M. Simon:

    ts;ni (too short, not interesting)…

    There’s a lot you miss with a short attention span. Most of the best things I’ve read were not short. The collected works of Asimov and Heinlein for example. And my chemistry texts. Love them. When size is your criterion, well, you get what you look for. Small.


    Please excuse my talking about you in comments. I tend to only do that when someone is the subject of the posting. Also note my comments on your comment are ‘in line’ in the comment, located above.

  8. EM – I found your reply to Serioso useful, and since he’s hiding behind a nom de plume he can’t logically get upset at being talked about.

    Seems to me that socialism can only work in a close-knit group of family or friends. There has to be a good reason for the people who contribute more to the pot only taking out what they need. The stories I’ve heard from communes (about the most extreme form) are that generally they last a few years before dissolving in acrimony, and if that doesn’t happen it’s because there are some pretty draconian rules enforced to kick out the people who are seen to be not contributing more than they get out. The sweetness and light only flows while people follow the rules and th place remains solvent.

    Despite the failure of the socialist system when taken to its logical limit, I still think that some socialist ideas work. In the UK, the National Health system works well (though maybe the French system works better but costs more) and losing your job does not mean total destitution. Two safety-nets that mean that people can take more risks than they otherwise would be comfortable doing. I also think that some way of getting an education that is relatively unbiased (as regards religion or politics) that is recognised nationally and internationally will help the nation as a whole and the educated individual as well. It just seems hard to work out how much regulation is enough to stop the Evil Bastards while allowing innovations to progress and allowing maximum freedom for the people who aren’t trying to rip people off. At the moment there are so many regulations that no-one can know them all except in a specialist area. You could spend a lifetime just reading the rules, and only a few people in the world would be able to remember them all. Also probably means that a fair number of those rules will be mutually exclusive, so you can’t avoid breaking some rules in normal life.

    When I was a kid, it seemed that a lot of things were Made In Hong Kong. It seems that an enlightened British Civil Servant set up their taxes with a rate of 10% which meant that people made profits and reinvested them (rather than them being taxed away) and made more money and paid more tax overall. Shame he couldn’t have implement that in the UK too…. At the moment, it looks to me that most of Europe is also well the wrong side of the Laffer curve and instead of recognising that this is the reason for the poor industrial performance they’re instead putting the taxes up. Tax me more, and I’ll spend less money on buying things other than essentials (and so will everyone else) and the economy shrinks. Seems pretty obvious.

    Maybe socialism is a bit like salt – the right amount improves things, but add too much and it can kill you.

  9. Serioso says:

    Here are the federal income tax receipts for the years 1980 through 1990, calculated as a percentage of GDP. I’ll be damned if I can see that the Reagan tax cuts increased receipts.
    1980 8.53%
    1981 8.90%
    1982 8.90%
    1983 7.94%
    1984 7.38%
    1985 7.70%
    1986 7.60%
    1987 8.06%
    1988 7.64%
    1989 7.88%
    1990 7.81%

    Case closed or further disagreement?

    So you have suddenly shifted the metric from absolute dollars (receipts are typically measured in actual money, ask any business what their receipts were for the day or month or… and they will not say 8%..) over to a percentage (of something unstated).

    Aside from the typical “shift the basis” ploy seen widely in Trolling, this also omits “percent of what?”. Now once you have a few statics thrown in (and percent is a statistic) there’s ever more opportunity for “manipulation for effect” and for “lying with statistics” ( I had that as a section in my stats class – very useful ) so, no, I don’t see where this is useful for much other than deflection, redirection, and distraction.

    The Laffer Curve (please do look it up) is about increasing REVENUE, not percent, with lower taxes. The whole point being that the economy responds by growing. I absolutely guarantee to you that you can get a much much higher tax rate and a much much higher tax percent by making taxes 100% of everything made. You will also get nearly nothing made and nearly no tax receipts (at least after the first year or two… some folks being slower learners than others).

    Nice try though… In a ‘wasting my time and not doing your homework but found a plausible dodge’ kind of way… -E.M.Smith ]

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    A healthy family is an example of a socialist structure that works (for a while). The parents are the benevolent dictators and the children are the subjects. All members work together to the mutual benefit of the family (until the time the kids become teenagers – then they are the anarchists and the socialistic structure fractures) In a healthy family that schism is managed so that a minimum of chaos results and the family changes structure.
    Then for a period while the parents and children are all self sufficient individuals you see a shift to a libertarian structure where each works for their own benefit but with a social imperative to help each other out when needed. In those cases family or tribal ties are senior imperatives to individual need or wishes.
    The stronger or more able take care of those who are less able. Sometimes only briefly (helping them find a job) or sometimes longer term to overcome an illness. At that point it becomes a discretionary libertarian/socialism where the members alternate between those two models on a case by case basis deciding which best serves the current circumstances.

    Then in old age the healthy family turns inside out the aged adults become the dependents and are cared for by other members of the family and the adult children become their caretakers and the new Alpha’s in the family. The elders help raise the grand kids and it all moves in a circle.

    Socialism only works when there is a very strong social or cultural bond between the members of the group and the members of the group are wiling to make altruistic sacrifices in the here and now under the social contract that some time in the future those sacrifices will be paid back by others in the group.

    Mammals (and most other young rearing animals) are hard wired to be altruistic in some circumstances. In the long run a group who has a few individuals who are the soldiers/fire fighters/doctors/police officers (or the alpha baboon who is willing to face off with the leopard) who serve the communities needs before their own, fares better than a loose association where each tries to get by as an individual.

    It comes naturally to humans in most cases, in wwII prison camps they found that the people most likely to survive were those individuals who formed small mutually supportive social groups (surrogate families) of 2 – 4 individuals. If one got sick another could look after them while the other pair (in a group of 4) could do necessary chores to survive, like scrounge for food.

    By the same token, there is some genetic advantage to have a small percentage of sociopaths who are born risk takers who thrive on the challenge and when necessary don’t care who gets in their way when attempting to reach a goal. If the sociopath chooses a path that contributes more good than bad, you get cutting edge researchers who press on when everyone else would quit, or doctors who will walk among the lepers and treat them, or the special ops person who will go and do things no one else wants to contemplate to protect the group. Sometimes that sociopath takes a destructive path and becomes a dictator and causes enormous destruction, but even then as in WWII a huge amount of engineering progress came out of the building and maintaining of those war machines. Modern planes, modern trucking, rail roads used the same diesel engines that were used on the submarines. trauma medicine, electronic advancements, radar, high power microwave, high frequency radio and the first computers and useful rockets which ultimately resulted in our weather satellites and GPS.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    My experience with Liberal Socialists is they demand their share at least and they “know” that all others are getting more then they. Now about contributions, they are sure that they are contributing more then others even if they do nothing at all! Those of us that ARE the creators do it because we like to share but we do get cranky when we are denied our own needs by those that do nothing but consume. I have even met Liberal Socialists that brag that they are not contributors because work is beneath them!. After all work is done by the lower class people. The upper class Elite do not have to work to earn their position. Their right to consume is god given by birth or acquired by joining the right group. pg

  12. David A says:

    Larry, playing off of Simon’s comment says…”A healthy family is an example of a socialist structure that works (for a while). The parents are the benevolent dictators and the children are the subjects.”
    Exactly, and this is IMV, is a large part of why socialism fails. It treats adults as perpetual eternal children, thereby removing responsibility from them as individuals. (So we end up with millions of adult children, dependent on the state, fed and housed with almost zero responsibility)

    In short socialist states create entitled enabled adult children, and due to central bureaucratic laws, there is no easy fix, as the system is structured to prevent enterprising free market moves to either sustain a functioning economy, or initiate a new functioning economy, and, being entitled enabled children, they would not take advantage of such a system anyway, but will likely and forever vote to take more from those in society still producing, forever demanding ever more expensive ”social justice.” (Sex change operations for prisoners, who also get better dental and medical then most private citizens, full medical plans for all, private housing, etc…)

    In affect the current administrations policy is to breed ever more of these dependent, entitled, and enabled adult children. Such children destroy families, or nations. Socialism is a dysfunctional family.

    The second most destructive part of the socialist system is, as the history of the world teaches, the fact that the “benevolent dictator” is anything but benevolent. “Such is the nature of the Tyrant, when he first appears he is a protector. (Plato)

    Even if the benevolent dictator is truly benevolent, that does not make him brilliant and wise, and even if he is brilliant, wise and benevolent, his predecessor likely will not be.

    Socialist states are all, in the end, self consuming.

  13. Serioso says:

    Now I’m pissed.

    Reply: Good for you. But that doesn’t change the quality of your argument. The world does not care how pissed you are, nor my state of pissedness about the Global Warming Scam. It is untilrely irrelevant.-EMS

    “Percentage of what?,” you say. As i clearly stated, GDP. Clearly stated.

    Reply: And would that be nominal GDP, adjusted GDP, percapita GDP, PPP deflated GDP, … Now, once you pick one, WHAT is it? It is a complicated statistic that specifically excludes black market and tax avoidance behaviours. Exactly the thing we care about in looking at Tax Avoidance with the Laffer Curve. Now you want to use a statistic (percent) about a statistic (some GDP) instead of looking at dollar revenue. Thàt is quite error prone, and not very useful. See:

    Voluntary work – GNP ignores voluntary work, such as domestic work. Free and Open Source Software (such as Linux) contribute nothing to GDP, but it was estimated that it would have cost more than a billion US dollars for a commercial company to develop. Also, if Free and Open Source Software became identical to its proprietary software counterparts, and the nation producing the propriety software stops buying proprietary software and switches to Free and Open Source Software, then the GDP of this nation would reduce, however there would be no reduction in economic production or standard of living. The work of New Zealand economist Marilyn Waring has highlighted that if a concerted attempt to factor in unpaid work were made, then it would in part, undo the injustices of unpaid (and in some cases, slave) labour, and also provide the political transparency and accountability necessary for democracy.

    GDP also ignores subsistence production.
    Black market – Official GDP estimates may not take into account the black market, where the money spent is not registered, and the non-monetary economy, where no money comes into play at all, resulting in inaccurate or abnormally low GDP figures. For example, in countries with major business transactions occurring informally, portions of local economy are not easily registered. Bartering may be more prominent than the use of money, even extending to services (I helped you build your house ten years ago, so now you help me).

    One main problem in estimating GDP growth over time is that the purchasing power of money varies in different proportion for different goods, so when the GDP figure is deflated over time, GDP growth can vary greatly depending on the basket of goods used and the relative proportions used to deflate the GDP figure. For example, in the past 80 years the GDP per capita of the United States if measured by purchasing power of potatoes, did not grow significantly. But if it is measured by the purchasing power of eggs, it grew several times.

    So exactly the things people do when they avoid taxes are excluded. Then, using a percent measure on it neatly avoids the predominant effect of a tax cut: growth in the absolute economic production. The benefit is by definition hidden. Not acceptable at all.

    Look, income tax receipts go up all the time, year after year. They went up under Reagan. So what! Maybe they went up because of inflation, maybe because of the (increasing) deficit, maybe (even) because of the tax rate cut. But they did not increase as a percentage of national income: They declined. Case closed.

    Replky: Interesting that you presented an argument based on percent of (some) GDP tax RATE and now you are shifting to an assertion about tax RECEIPTS. Not equivalent concepts. Also you drag in inflation (one of the defects in GDP) and then color with a ‘deficit’ that somehow magically increases receipts… Deficit is unrelated to receipts (other than spending what you didn’t get in receipts can increase the deficit). This is a confused paragraph at best confounding all sorts of distractors. Finally, you shift from GDP to “national income” (look up GNI – National Income is a completely different economic statistic). “Case Closed”? Not with that dogs breakfast of scatter. -EMS

    I don’t think you are trying very hard to be fair. Maybe it’s a waste of my time trying to convince you of your error, but facts are facts and they won’t go away, regardless of your beliefs.

    Reply: I endevor to always be fair. I don’t try, I do, or don’t do. Trying is for folks who expect to fail at what they endevor. Since I have not made an error, yes, it is a waste of your time to try to find it or try to convince me of it. Especially when you are sloppy with econonic terms. -EMS

    And, to boot, you are resorting to insult.
    And yes, I know a great deal about the “Laugher” curve, possibly more than you. I’m not nearly as stupid or ignorant as you seem to think. Maybe you need to read more carefully.

    So, in essence, you wish to toss out the entire Laffer Curve? That’s the implication of your argument and the use of the misspelling of the name of it ‘for effect’. Good luck with that. Since at zero tax rate there is zero tax and at 100% tax rate there will be near zero tax as the economy halts, and now we are at non-zero tax revenue, it’s pretty clear there IS such a curve. Oh, and I don’t “resort” to insult. I use it to entertain myself so this isn’t a complete waste of my time. Also note, since you can have no idea how “stupid or ignorant” I think you are, you can make no comparative about that quantity.

    But, to the argument, I presented example data from the Reagan years, in keeping with the deffinition of the Laffer Curve. You presented a statistic about a statistic (though unclear on which version of that statistc) that excludes the particular effect of interest. I suggest re-reading about the Laffer Curve, GDP definitions, and tax revenues. -EMS

  14. Gary says:

    The flaw that led to the demise of the U.S. Constitution as an effect control on governmental abuse of the citizenry was the Judiciary. More thought should have gone into how to prevent them from making law.

  15. Serioso says:

    Which GDP, you ask. It really doesn’t matter, so long as you use the same dollars for tax receipts and national product. Use constant dollars or use current dollars, the result is the same if you use the same type of dollar in numerator and denominator. That’s one of the advantages of using ratios.

    I never said anything negative about the Laffer curve, and I never proposed to “toss [it] out.” Indeed, reading the reference you provided, I see that Laffer himself believes we are on the productive (low tax rate) side of the curve, far from the point of maximum tax revenue.

    The fact remains that income tax revenues declined as a percentage of GDP after the Reagan tax rate cut. A change of one in 8 or 9 is far from trivial. And the fact that GDP does not include voluntary work (etc.) is irrelevant when looking at a large change in a small time period.

    The question, I suppose, is whether you can explain the decrease. Or, if not explain it, see it.

    [Reply: See the posting here: for my reply. -E.M.S. <b

  16. Wayne Job says:

    Em there are very few thinkers in the world most follow the herd, it is a pleasure to read your blogs.
    I think god smiles on the west for in the past when the shit really hits the fan we find some one in charge that is not an idiot. Free and open thinkers like yourself are a rare commodity.
    Miles Mathis is another seeker of truth, me I am just your average idiot, as yogi bear would say, but I can spot bullshit from a hundred miles. Thanks EM.

  17. cdquarles says:

    What’s socialist about a family? Nothing. The economic unit still has economic actors making economic decisions, so long as it is free to exercise them. But, but, but children don’t produce. Yes they do, if you let them, once they’re old enough (around 5 or so). Children are a capital good within a family. You put savings into it early on and (hopefully) reap the return later when your own productive ability has declined and theirs increased. A family is a form of an asset/liability matching mechanism, and akin to insurance.

  18. Serioso says:

    May I ask you, as politely as I can, why my submission of March 4th is still “under moderation.” I don’t believe it violated any of your rules. And I was answering a question that you yourself asked.

    The questions remain: Did you misunderstand the Laffer Curve and the position of the federal taxation system on it? Or did you not? Does posting any disagreement with you constitute a “carping comment”? Will you allow criticism of your views without holding them up indefinitely?

    I don’r know if your readers want to know, but I do.

    Reply: Simply time management. Your question was a somewhat “off topic” and tending to take time away from new postings. Further, having already demonstrated a tendency to snark and a tendency to engage in classic troll behavior (though you may not actually BE a troll, the behavior is one of the traits) of thread hijack and instigation of endless argument, it is a very low priority comment to deal with. Further, as a “serial abuser” of commenting privileges (via said snark, instigation, etc.) you go to moderation until I have time to deal with it adequately. You may not like that, but it is the only strategy I have identified that prevents troll behavior from overtaking comment blocks. I’ll get to it eventually, but right now I have over 40 saved topics (from when I was having computer and network issues) that need a posting made and, frankly, dealing with yet another complaining demanding comment is not as important as getting those postings done. I fully understand the Laffer Curve, though you seem to have difficulty with it (as evidenced your inability to stick to one metric) and helping you through that (especially given the tendency to ‘debating games’ styles like swapping the premises and swapping metrics mid argument) is just not high on my ‘want to do now’ list. But don’t worry, eventually I’ll have a slow day and get back to it. Per criticism: I have no more nor less sensitivity to it than most. Having had many “code reviews” and practiced “egoless programming” for years, reaction to it is pretty well gone. I do, though, generally try to hold up the “criticize the argument not the person” style (carping comments postings being an exception). BTW, I didn’t start with any of these behaviors. They were learned and developed over years from dealing with trolls and troll behavior. What I am ‘sensitive to’ is that. Attempts at thread hijack, instigation of discord, provoking emotional responses, etc. See: for some insight on why it is worth suppressing troll behaviors. And that includes attempts to incite me, which is why I tend to have a non-emotional affect pretty much all the time (so most emotion read into things is from the reader). I’ve had a lifetime of being criticized for being unemotional and remote, but now it’s a feature. ;-) So, in short, you want to engage on a topic that I’ve already dealt with, on a thread where it is somewhat off topic, and I’m more interested in time management and a centered life. -E.M.Smith

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