48 Responses

  1. You gave me an opening:

    Like

    • jnc:

      I ran across a story this morning about the teacher’s unions and how much money they donate to politicians and lobbying groups, and it got me to wondering: Are teacher’s union’s criminal enterprises? After all, they are essentially paying off politicians and/or people who have influence over those politicians to prevent competition and ensure a guaranteed profit for their members. What do you think?

      Like

  2. Funny.

    Like

  3. AGW, is there nothing it can’t do?

    Like

    • McWing:

      AGW, is there nothing it can’t do?

      Yes…it can’t do anything positive. All consequences of AGW must, by definition, be bad.

      Like

  4. Scott: re your GPS question.

    I don’t have one, but if I did I’d set it so that the map is always north-up. How else are you going to know where you’re going?

    Like

  5. (and your opening comment is classic–well done, Mr C!)

    Like

  6. But lots of people…mostly females in my anecdotal accounting…seem to prefer the car pointing up

    I’m going to pay attention next time–it seems to me that you’re right from what I remember about riding with a couple of female friends. I attribute my north-upness to all of my map training in the military.

    I also have problems with GPS in general because it rarely gives me a big enough picture (I was talking about this just tonight with a friend). He’s been bugging me about getting a new phone with GPS on it (as opposed to my BlackBerry with Google Maps on it) for my explorations around Baltimore and DC because I keep getting lost when Google Maps fails to take into account construction detours. My point is that I’d rather carry a map and be able to see the bigger picture and then try to figure out how to get where I’m going, rather than rely on a set of directions from a phone or dash app when I can’t see the end point.

    Like

  7. Best explanation of the “sides” in the GOP’s civil war.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/node/371716/print

    Worth reading if you’re a progressive and all Republicans seem the same.

    Like

    • George –

      I am disturbed by the notion that Congress can pass revenue and expenditure bills that leave a negative balance, but then vote to dishonor the negative balance. The Debt Ceiling is a stupid idea, IMHO. The national legislature is run by immature persons. It matters not whether they were more immature by not raising revenue, by not lowering expenditures, or by not authorizing covering the shortfall with debt instruments. They are all irresponsible and Ds who lead in refusing to face expenditure cuts and Rs who lead in refusing to raise revenue and TEA who lead in refusing to acknowledge that debt instruments are the way we handle accounts payable when we did neither of the first two required functions on a continuing basis are all sophomoric fuckups [SFs].

      These SFs each congratulate themselves for their continuing mishandling of our nation’s trust.

      When half a dozen bipartisan groups offered recommendations that would tend to cut expenditures and raise revenues they were blasted by liberals and conservatives. I think I was the only one in America who wasn’t caught up in “you go first”, “nah, you go first!” And maybe Jerry Brown, I guess.

      Like

      • Mark:

        I am disturbed by the notion that Congress can pass revenue and expenditure bills that leave a negative balance, but then vote to dishonor the negative balance. The Debt Ceiling is a stupid idea, IMHO.

        It’s not the debt ceiling which allows this, but rather the constitution. The constitution gives congress the power to spend, tax, and issue debt, but it doesn’t require that the three all be in balance. So congress has always had the ability to authorize spending without authorizing a way to pay for it, even before the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling exists simply so that debt can be issued without explicit congressional approval each time. Do you really think it would be better for the treasury be authorized to issue unlimited amounts of debt without congressional approval?

        Also, the situation isn’t as simple and straight forward as you suggest, where a given congress authorizes spending but then refuses to authorize a way to pay for it. In fact huge portions of the budget are comprised of so-called mandatory spending authorized by previous congresses, not the current one, and the current congress has discretion only over a part of each annual budget, so it isn’t at all a fair or accurate characterization to say that that a given congress or given representatives have passed revenue and expenditure bills that leave a negative balance. In fact they are saddled with spending authorized by other congresses.

        To me far more disturbing than the debt ceiling (and the political shenanigans that it facilitates), are things like baseline budgeting and mandatory spending – and the political shenanigans that those facilitate. After all, despite the existence of the debt ceiling and the brinksmanship that has accompanied it, we still have yet to actually fail to make any payments, but the amount of the payments owed continues to grow at a staggering and ultimately unsustainable pace. Using the debt ceiling as a political tool is the very least of the ways in which our representatives act irresponsibly.

        The national legislature is run by immature persons.

        I think it would be more accurate to say that the nation is stocked with immature voters. What we have is a spending problem, but ultimately our irresponsible congress (and president) is just giving people what they want, which is more governmental goodies at someone else’s expense. Since we have gotten to the point that the outrageous amount of spending can no longer be sustained by a minority of taxpayers, the politicians have had to pass the expense on to a different someone else….future generations in the form of debt. If these periodic brouhahas over the debt ceiling accomplish nothing else, at least they raise the public profile of that rather disturbing fact.

        Like

      • Mark:

        When half a dozen bipartisan groups offered recommendations that would tend to cut expenditures and raise revenues they were blasted by liberals and conservatives.

        I’m curious which bipartisan recommendations you have in mind here that would tend to cut expenditures. Most bipartisan plans that I am aware of tend to promise future spending cuts for current tax increases. I’m not at all sure that it is a sign of maturity or responsibility to accept such a dubious promise.

        Do you think a mature and responsible person can believe that the federal government already both collects and spends too much money? If so, what type of political action/strategy would be a mature and responsible effort to alter that situation?

        BTW, I took a look at the history of government revenues and spending per capita (look at “breakdown” figures under the spending and taxes tabs on this site) in constant 2013 dollars (as calculated from here) and came up with the following:

        Year Revenue Spending
        2013 $8,775 $10,927
        2010 $7,480 $11,957
        2000 $9,689 $8,559
        1990 $7,385 $8,968
        1980 $6,461 $7,381
        1970 $5,688 $5,772
        1960 $4,384 $4,273
        1950 $2,785 $2,862
        1940 $882 $1,265
        1930 $544 $446
        1920 $816 $746

        So last year the feds collected 10.76 times more revenue per person than it did in 1920, twice as much as it did in 1960, and more than it did in any other decade year except for 2000. Revenues per capita has increased in every single decade except for one. What makes an objection to continuing this trend an “immature” stance to take?

        Like

        • What makes an objection to continuing this trend an “immature” stance to take?

          I don’t suggest that particular objection is immature.

          I do think 2000 is an exemplar of what a surplus year should look like. Because of variation in both collections and spending from any projected budget it should be in positive territory sometimes and negative territory sometimes – but never in the projected negative spiral of Prof. Krugman, for instance.

          As to the criticism of the bipartisan plans – you are confusing what they propose with what a real world Congress would do with them. It would jettison them at the first opportunity and we would never get the savings. Of course that is true, but that is NOT a problem with the ideas but the exact same problem with the SFs who run our country that I am complaining about.

          The ideas were criticized by liberals for trimming entitlement spending over the mid to long term. That is exactly the part of their plans you seem to be criticizing. Not all entitlement plans are actuarially impossible, but starting with the one that is – Medicaid – would at least be worthwhile. Don’t ask me how to deal with the burgeoning nursing home population because I have no expertise – I don’t think it is ultimately affordable through federal taxation and Medicaid is already the biggest black hole in the budget. These commissions and panels did seriously try to address this.

          If I were studying these issues I would see if any other nations were managing better than we are and try to see what ideas could be imported. I would think real world labs were better than think tanks about this. But I wouldn’t piss on commission and panel reports because I knew in my heart that Congress would saboutage them. I would piss on Congress.

          Like

        • Mark:

          I don’t suggest that particular objection is immature.

          Well, you did describe “Rs who lead in refusing to raise revenue” as “sophomoric fuckups”. So if it is not immature to object to continuing the trend of increasing taxation per capita, how can someone who does so object behave responsibly in your view without refusing to raise revenue further which, it seems, transforms them into a “sophomoric fuckup”?

          As to the criticism of the bipartisan plans – you are confusing what they propose with what a real world Congress would do with them.

          A plan that ignores the nature of politicians is not, in my mind, a responsible plan. Communism is a great plan, too, as long as we pretend that human nature is other than what it actually is. I don’t think it is reasonable to criticize politicians for not supporting a plan that even you acknowledge won’t accomplish what it is meant to accomplish. Especially those who don’t support it because they know that the thing they want, reduced spending, is the thing that will never occur while the thing they give up to get it, increased taxation, is the thing that will happen. The equivalence that you draw between liberal and conservative objections to these plans (a pox on both their houses) is not reasonable.

          I would think real world labs were better than think tanks about this.

          Agreed. Real world labs like….states. That is why the federal government should not be involved in a majority of the spending that it is involved in. Any plan that does not recognize and set out to fix this fundamental problem is not a reasonable plan.

          Like

  8. Mark, I agree that voting against creating debt to fund spending you authorized is hypocritical. I am trying to get people elected who will not do it.

    Scott’s right in that voters are immature. They want to believe in magic apparantly and are electing people who claim we’ve just endured austerity.

    Like

  9. Or electing people who claim to want to cut government but the don’t when given the chance.

    Like

  10. I’ll ask our Progressives here, in what way is income inequality bad for the economy? What tangible ways does it hurt it.

    http://nyti.ms/1cdpVrP

    Like

    • George – It is OK to be rich. The problem only arises when enough people are poor that it drags down the economy because they cannot purchase stuff.

      That does not address “why are so many people poor?” I and David Brooks think it is because so many have dropped out of HS, or got preggers, or were convicted of crimes before they were 19, since 1974. Only 71% of Americans clear those three hurdles and we are generally carrying the load of keeping the economy going – but we are also paying FOR them.

      You know my thoughts – these are not federal governmental problems even though they are national ones. In my worldview these are state and local governmental problems. Police and local welfare agencies and emergency rooms are kept real busy by this underclass. Some communities have figured out stuff that works for them and it can be replicated. But forcing replication through federal mandates is an especially inefficient idea. I think the federal role could include what the USDA did forever for county agents: collecting and distributing useful information about the innovations that seem to work for others.

      The best thing the feds could do for the underclass in the short run would be to repeal most federal criminal sanctions on drug use by adults. Decriminalize MJ alone and regulate/tax hemp and KY will soon be able to take care of itself.

      But then, I am only a Progressive in the limited sense that TR was a Progressive.

      Like

  11. Well, what percentage of the people in the country are poor when you include transfer payments? I suspect very few.

    That being said, so what if there is income inequality? How does it hurt things if Mary makes 100 billion a year and Suzy gets transfer payments to be able to feed, cloth and house herself? If, regardless of the state of the economy Suzy gets enough, and I think we all agree that it occurs now, why the left’s anger at income inequality?

    Like

  12. in what way is income inequality bad for the economy?

    So, “Carl”, are you admitting that “trickle down” was a pipe dream that has never happened (and never will)?

    Like

    • Mich:

      So, “Carl”, are you admitting that “trickle down” was a pipe dream that has never happened (and never will)?

      What does his question have to do with the trickle down theory?

      Like

      • Communism is a great plan, too, as long as we pretend that human nature is other than what it actually is.

        Bullshit. It is a stupid and irrational idea on paper. How can I take you seriously about this? Surely you were exaggerating for [some] effect.

        As for revenue increase, per capita, I think there is room for some. I also think that the ultimately healthy economy will rely on not having a 29% underclass, both for eliminating the drag on the economy and for optimizing the potential of citizens in every way. Like Brent, I don’t think that is done with tax policy. I think it is done in the long term by addressing the three points David Brooks and I agree upon. I truly believe the local support of community colleges is critical. I don’t propose any grand federal solution. I think there is no such thing.

        It is analogous to my belief that more medical and nursing schools and clinics are the first requirement for lowering care costs. There is a supply shortage. the private market is inhibited from reaching equilibrium here and we need to see why. AMA, George? NoVa, you have explained the corrosive effect low deductibles have by increasing demand artificially. I am addressing why supply is artificially low.

        Like

        • Mark:

          How can I take you seriously about this?

          Whether you take my analogy seriously or not, the underlying point remains. A plan that ignores the nature of politicians isn’t much of a plan, and calling people who oppose it precisely because they know it won’t be honored in the real world “sophomoric fuckups” isn’t, I don’t think, a reasonable critique.

          And my larger point is that I don’t think the “a pox on both their houses” approach is a reasonable one in this instance. We collect more revenue per person now than at almost any point in our history. Clearly the problem is a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Those who are appalled by the prospect of even make-believe future cuts, much less actual current cuts, are much more irresponsible than those who demand to see real commitment to controlling spending before considering any compromise on taxes.

          As for revenue increase, per capita, I think there is room for some.

          Perhaps, but the question was what policies/plans should a politician who disagrees with you support in order to avoid being irresponsible/immature?

          Ultimately I think the financial problems we face are not created by petty or immature politicians, but rather by ideology. People who vote for, and politicians who implement, the vast array of spending programs we now have will inevitably have the problems we now face, no matter what great plans they may come up with to alleviate the immediate problem. Because, as Margaret Thatcher put it, eventually you run out of other people’s money.

          Like

  13. Troll, isn’t that interesting. Exactly 40 years ago, liberalism was permanently victorious. Republicans were on track to nominate their next liberal. Reagan was a kook on the far right. Stranger, though, is that George Will wrote for National Review at that time–the flagship of conservatism, at its intellectual and conservative peak.

    Of course, Reagan wasn’t really far out. Nixon had talked about a silent majority, but he never actually stood with or for that silent majority. The proto-RINO establishment controlled the party until Reagan broke their hold, for a while at least.

    Like

  14. I admit no such thing. Allowing people to keep their own money is good.

    Why is income inequality bad for the economy?

    Like

  15. I’ll ask our Progressives here, in what way is income inequality bad for the economy? What tangible ways does it hurt it.

    They believe if not enough wealth is at the bottom of the distribution, consumption is decreased overall. And that is true enough. The poor spend, the rich save. That said, there is more to GDP growth than consumption and government spending. The wealth at the top is invested, and that counts as well.

    Liberals want to see “C” and “G” increased. They think that money held by the wealthy is somehow taken out of circulation, which is true only if the rich put their money in the mattress. But “I” and “C” are both components of GDP. More “C” means a better economy today. More “I” means a better economy tomorrow. That is why the liberal mantra that “give more money to the middle class – they’ll spend it” is really a vacuous argument. It ignores the opportunity cost (in investment) of that money.

    The problem is that when liberals pursue policies to influence wealth distribution, they invariably involve manipulating markets via taxes, wage floors etc. These distortions create what economists call deadweight losses, which means that when you add up the gains people make vs the losses people incur, the losses are greater than the gains. Econ 101: Any attempt to change equilibrium points creates deadweight losses. Attempting to change the distribution via government fiat by definition is a net economic negative.

    The argument liberals should be making is not one based on GDP, but utility. Decreasing economic inequality does increase the net utility (happiness) because the marginal utility of a dollar for a poor person is vastly different than the marginal utility for a rich person. If you want to maximize the overall happiness of a country, you would use some maximization function to allocate money to everyone according to their individual utility curves.

    The problem of course is that it is a ceteris paribus argument, which means that the only variable being changed is the distribution of wealth. All other variables are held constant, which means it assumes the size of the economic pie remains the same. It assumes away the real side effects of such a policy, which is that it would wreak havoc with new business creation which would quickly decrease the size of the economy.

    Of course no one aside from Alethia would offer that as a serious policy consideration. But, if you decrease inequality, you mathematically will increase the overall happiness of the economy. And there are certainly studies that say the Scandinavian countries are the happiest places to be. That said, there are a whole host of other variables to consider aside from inequality, so it is simplistic to say “lets get single payer institute a top marginal rate of 60% and we’ll be so fucking happy we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles.”

    Like

  16. What is trickle down as you use it, Michi?

    Like

  17. Troll, yesterday you raised the question of whether Toobin’s column and its genre of Clarence Thomas smears reflect racism.

    Ann Althouse has an answer.

    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-white-man-demands-that-black-man.html

    Like

  18. Well Mark, the states regulate licensing so only they can increase practitioners, no? And the AMA has a lot of money so I don’t see a change to your preference unless the individual existing practitioners get their mordida.

    Or, we could import practitioners and compete with UK and commonwealth countries thereby driving up costs. Not so good hunh?

    Or, and I’m just spitballing, we give Medicare and Medicaid recipients cash and If they wanna blow it on hookers and coke instead of healthcare then I’ll kick in and give them free morphine in a tent and put them in a paupers field when the time comes. The important thing is they made their choices for themselves. Liberty. I honestly cannot fathom why this is an objectionable plan unless we don’t trust the citizenry to make choices we’d like them to make.

    Wait…

    Like

  19. Uh, who else has he blamed?

    President Obama is stepping up his efforts to coalesce and energize the Democratic base for the 2014 elections, backing off on issues where his positions might alienate the left, and more aggressively singling out Republicans as being responsible for the country’s problems.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-seeks-to-defuse-tensions-among-democrats/2014/02/22/92e472fc-9b1b-11e3-ad71-e03637a299c0_story.html

    Like

  20. Dingell to retire

    Like

  21. I thought he died 3 years ago.

    Like

  22. it’s possible there’s a weekend at john’s thing going on.

    Like

  23. Scott, I wanted to note that I saw your question above, and I’m not ignoring it but I’m tied up with various tax preparation matters that have a deadline so I won’t be able to respond to it until after those are done.

    Like

  24. @ScottC: “I ran across a story this morning about the teacher’s unions and how much money they donate to politicians and lobbying groups, and it got me to wondering: Are teacher’s union’s criminal enterprises?”

    All unions are fundamentally criminal enterprises. Or that’s how they end up. Good lord knows, the overt crime attendant with most unions historically should provide sufficient evidence that unions tend toward the criminal. Fortunately, there is less murder, abductions, and hijacking in the teachers unions.

    Like

  25. @Troll: “and more aggressively singling out Republicans as being responsible for the country’s problems.”

    Previously, I think he was blaming the voters. Or the bitter clingers. Really, better to blame the opposite political party in Washington than the salt of the earth. 😉

    Although I tend to think that we have 99 problems and the members of the opposing political party are just one of them.

    Like

  26. @ScottC: “Yes…it can’t do anything positive. All consequences of AGW must, by definition, be bad.”

    Well, actually, it would created more farmable land and save lives (whether anthropogenic or not). While extreme heat claims its fair share of old folks, cold claims far more. The warmer it is, the fewer people die, and this would probably remain true until the equator was practically in flames. At that point, of course, Antarctica would be a lush oasis.

    Like

    • Kevin:

      The warmer it is, the fewer people die, and this would probably remain true until the equator was practically in flames.

      Denier.

      Like

      • No, promoter! I promote global warming for it’s aggregate benefit and the saving of lives. In aggregate. There will be more heat related deaths and deaths related to insects and bacteria that flourish in heat, but chances are these still will not compare to the murderous icy fingers of cold and winter weather.

        Like

Be kind, show respect, and all will be right with the world.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: