Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
One of my more independent-minded Facebook friends, someone I’ve learned to respect although he’s probably to the political left of me somewhere, took his turn to bash that ignorant slut Elizabeth Warren.
To which I say, Yes. Everybody line up & grab a number.
Good (even great!) arguments for progressive taxation exist. (“We’re broke” is actually an excellent one.) Elizabeth Warren’s relay of tired academic orthodoxy is not such an argument. Though it’s worthwhile to think about the systems that lead us to be able to be able to acquire wealth, and government is part of that, so are free markets, the harnessing of self-interest as a motivational tool that our economy relies on, and the fact that we as a society respect the right of those who earn money to keep it rather than go French-Revolution* on them.
Ah. Well, he’s right about pretty much everything, and I didn’t like jumping down this little rabbit hole, but I had to.
Fantastic post Bob; well said.
I know it’s a parenthetical point, but I have to take issue with the thing about “we’re broke” being an excellent point in favor of progressive taxation. Take it downward in the hierarchy a level or two, to the state and municipal governments; they have the same argument. Now if you start flying around from city to city and buying up local newspapers, reading all these sob stories about local treasuries being broke — after awhile, the message emerges and it is crystal clear: It is the nature of government to entirely avoid accountability for living beyond means. In other words, it is ALWAYS the taxpayer’s fault for not paying enough.
The message becomes even clearer when one starts to review the line item expenses maintained by these governments. Just speaking for myself, I would characterize it as “abuse” if the average age & mileage of the local citizens’ automobiles is measurably greater than the average age & milage of those driven by government officials. Some would disagree with that viewpoint with some legitimacy; but you can just imagine how I feel about $2M spent to study monkey-fornicating habits, or $3M for researchers to play World of Warcraft.
I mean, I think you get the point. “Hey we better not approve this expense because we might not be able to come up with the money for it” — it’s a thought that just doesn’t reverberate. Maybe that can’t be done, but no, “we’re broke” is not an excellent point for progressive taxation. It isn’t even an adequate one.
Bob fessed up that he “went too far,” which is good because we were able to get back to the primary subject, about which he is completely in the right. Incremental improvement.
Since then, I see President Obama is making the news because He’s going to be speaking in Silicon Valley…and I already know what He’s going to say: We have to make the tax system more progressive, because the goverment is in debt up to its ass, and these millionaires-n-billionaires (one word there) are getting away with murder.
It makes me think back to this exchange about the virtue of progressive taxation.
Three things I think all intelligent people paying attention to the issue, realize implicitly, although nobody talks about them out loud. So it falls to The Blog That Nobody Reads to point out the elephant in the room.
One. Conservatives recognize there must be something “okay” with a progressive tax system, and that thing makes any argument about it entirely moot. We are always going to have a progressive tax scheme as long as our government is awash in red ink, and our government is always going to be awash in red ink. The math says so. Imagine what revenues we would have to raise to pay all of one year’s expenses, service the public debt, and avoid running a deficit for that year. Now divide that by the number of people who might conceivably pay taxes…and imagine the least prosperous among those taxpayers sending in that quotient to the IRS. It’s just not going to happen. So there is going to have to be some progressive-curve in what these people & businesses are forking over.
Two. President Obama’s message, “Now that we’re in deep trouble we need to ‘ask’ more of our millionaires-n-billionaires,” creates a self-perpetuating, vicious political circle that is helpful to the liberal cause although it hurts the country. We are in a “hyper-progressive” taxation posture, by which I mean not only are the people at the high end paying more than the people at the low end, but many on the low end are not paying anything at all. So when it’s time to raise the money, many of the voters will back the President in saying yeah, tax that guy over there — what do I care? I’m still paying nothing. That’s the revenue side; when it comes to spending, the electorate will then say hell yes, go ahead and spend the money. Again, what do I care?
Three. Because we’re in this vicious circle, there is an obvious anesthetizing effect coming from the progressive taxation. One thing I like to run past passionate progressives is, let’s just say as a matter of policy proposal, we compromise by remaining progressive but ceasing to be hyper-progressive. We keep the curve, but it reaches all the way over to the left side of the graph; the taxpayer of most humble means is still paying a dollar a year. Everyone has skin in the game. Not a single one of them will agree to that because “I feel that would be greedy,” they say. But maybe that’s the answer, because all the taxpayers who are voting, would have a tactile feel for what’s going on. And it is a good compromise.
From all this, I have lately had a thought. Obama’s message lately — it hasn’t varied even a single bit, for the last few months — relies on a moral premise that a hyper-progressive tax scheme becomes more virtuous as our nation’s financial stature becomes less sturdy, less solvent, more ramshackle. Maybe, instead of flinging insults back and forth, conservatives and liberals should debate that. Specifically, I’d like to see some attention placed on the question: Wouldn’t the President’s implied moral proffering make more sense if it were precisely reversed? In other words, a hyper-progressive taxation curve, in which all the bills are paid by the top 50% and the more you make, the more you pay, makes most sense and is morally defensible when the government is in the black. It spends itself into debt, cannot raise enough to pay its bills, so it starts to tax the bottom half, albeit at a much lower rate. So it has hyper-progressive taxation when it can afford that luxury, and loses it after a time when it can no longer afford it, so that everyone starts to help out. And because everyone helps out, everyone gains this “tactile feel” of the expanding crisis. Many hands make light work.
Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than what President Obama is proposing, which is the exact opposite?
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