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Economic Myths: We Separate Fact From Fiction

Taxes are too high, the stimulus was too little. What’s true?

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ibsteve2u

Aug. 21, 2011, 4:59 p.m.

lolll…our interests….differ, Albert Meyer.  I am bound to the Preamble to the Constitution, which espouses why this nation was founded:  “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.

I do not like unnecessary warfare, but I must note that you “libertarians” ever call for the elimination of welfare when it was those who have wealth in America who eliminated the ability for tens of millions of Americans to find gainful employment.

Those Americans who now survive on social safety nets did not inflict “flood-up/trickle-down” economics upon America; they were not compelled by the greed unleashed by that policy to use the liquidity they garnered from that policy to buy the politicians and legislation required to destroy their own jobs with inequitable free trade or loot the value of their savings and homes with deregulation.

You would eliminate “welfare” and other government social safety nets and so sentence them to death for daring to suffer from the grievous harm inflicted upon them by those whose wealth has permitted them to turn America against the American people.

I would further note that the number of poor and subsistence-level working Americans who are libertarians is somewhere between slim and none…while those with vast amounts of wealth who now espouse libertarianism suggests that libertarianism has devolved into a means of protecting what you have or hope to accumulate while providing justification for sitting back and watching America rot - until the day that rot eats you, of course. 

Again, that does not agree with my interpretation of why this nation was founded; America was created to ensure “the general Welfare”, and not solely to protect the interests of those who have wealth already.

On the more pragmatic side, when one is at war one always takes out the greatest threat first…the Republicans - with whom the Libertarians hold far more kinship than they do with the Democrats - are the greatest threat the American people face.

Are, in fact, the greatest threat the American people have ever faced.

Albert Meyer

Aug. 21, 2011, 6:19 p.m.

First, thanks for the response - much appreciated.

“I do not like unnecessary warfare…”

Which wars of the recent past, say, going back to WWII do you consider necessary? Keep in mind that war profiteers might have been behind the instigation of most of them. Actually don’t bother to answer, because even if you approve of all of them, I would never be persuaded. All warfare is unnecessary, unless prompted by a direct attack on our soil such as happened at Pearl Harbor. 9/11 was an attack by Saudi citizens. Bush/Cheney saw this as their opportunity to annex the Iraqi oil fields at the cost 1.4 million mainly innocent Iraqi lives.

Don’t lay the blame of Republican and Democratic screw-ups at the door of libertarians. Don’t you get it? Republicans and Democrats, bought by special interests, have ruined this country and its employment opportunities not the libertarians. Just tell me on the points I made earlier whether I am correct or not.

“Those Americans who now survive on social safety nets did not inflict “flood-up/trickle-down” economics upon America; they were not compelled by the greed unleashed by that policy to use the liquidity they garnered from that policy to buy the politicians and legislation required to destroy their own jobs with inequitable free trade or loot the value of their savings and homes with deregulation.”

I am sorry but I find this statement very difficult to understand. What is “flood-up/trickle-down” economics and who inflicted that on whom? The rest is also really difficult to understand. All I can say is that Ruben left Goldman Sachs and joined the Clinton Administration. He then guided new legislation through that broke down the Glass-Steagall Act. Wall Street ran with this and between the legislatures (Democrat and Republicans – the only libertarian in Congress, Ron Paul, voted against the legislation; stick to facts) and bankers, the looting you describe above began.

Yes, inequitable free trade, crony fascism with big business and government washing each others’ hands – nothing to do with free markets. Don’t jump to conclusions; do your research, understands the differences. Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone wrote a number of articles to illustrate this incestuous relationship between Goldman Sachs and the Clinton/bush Administration. If you haven’t read it, get onto it immediately. It’s an education that explains the difference between free markets and crony corporatism.

“You would eliminate “welfare” and other government social safety nets and so sentence them to death for daring to suffer from the grievous harm inflicted upon them by those whose wealth has permitted them to turn America against the American people.”

What rubbish! But let’s assume the government is the best vehicle by which to provide a safety net for the citizenry. This idea did become law, the payroll tax was 2% and great promises were made to the taxpayers. Strictly speaking a private institution (e.g. a mutual insurance company with no shareholders but owned entirely by its policyholders) could have made the same promises and extracted the same contributions. That would have been enshrined in a legally binding contract, which would not have been subject to change without compensation or legal redress. Instead, we relied on the government, the entity that cannot be sued and that has the right to change the rules on us at any time. How did that work out for us?

Since the start of Social Security, the benevolent government has raised the payroll tax twenty times. They have raised the age limit for retirement. Annuities have not kept pace with inflation. Worst of all, when Congress could not balance the budget, they raided the Social Security Trust funds. If this were a private pension fund, by law they would have had to accumulate pension assets to the tune of about $30 trillion to meet future obligations; and no politician would have been able to raid these assets. Instead the fund has only about $4 trillion in assets. Great isn’t it?

Now if you think that this is a safety net, you need to redefine safety nets. I assume you are not a young adult, because ask any young adult whether he or she has any faith in the promise of government that their payroll taxes will one day provide a retirement for them and they will say no, of course not. So, it easy to make promises to voters and take their hard earned wages in exchange. It is quite another to deliver on these promises.

Albert Meyer

Aug. 21, 2011, 6:21 p.m.

Continued from above in response to ibsteve

“Again, that does not agree with my interpretation of why this nation was founded; America was created to ensure “the general Welfare”, and not solely to protect the interests of those who have wealth already.”

So, must I presume that your highly-compromised legislatures of both parties have taken good care of the general welfare of the nation? I’d say, $14 trillion in debt and another $60 trillion in un-funded mandates make for a sorry definition of “general welfare.”

They have done exactly what you accuse “libertarians” of wanting to do, that is, protecting the interests of the wealthy. You need to look up and see who bankrolls the campaigns of your Representatives in Congress. Big business, big corporations and their CEO’s who have Congress in their pockets and pig out at the $3 trillion budget trough. I would say that the two parties (two wings of the same bird of prey) have so utterly failed us that any alternative looks mightily attractive. If you are defending the status quo, you need a Congressional medal in honor of your loyalty.

“On the more pragmatic side, when one is at war one always takes out the greatest threat first…the Republicans - with whom the Libertarians hold far more kinship than they do with the Democrats - are the greatest threat the American people face.’

Wrong again! Libertarians espouse individual liberties, freedom of choice, no government interference in the way we live, marry or die; no infringements on our privacy. This puts them solidly on the liberal side of the Democratic Party. Libertarians believe in free trade and free markets. That does not put them in camp of the Republicans, because Republicans are in bed with big government and want nothing to do with the one libertarian in Congress, Ron Paul. They banned him from their National Convention in 2008. George Bush campaigned for his opponent in a primary, unheard of interference at primary level.

There is not a scintilla of libertarianism in the Republican Party, although they might pretend so, just to fool the voters, a trick gainfully employed on both sides of the aisle. They have their corporate backers and no libertarian-minded person will become between them and their rich source of campaign funding.

Until you accept the fact that you have been duped by the media and by the political machines of both parties, you will continue to labor under the illusion that those in government care about you, although there might be an exception here or there on both sides of the isle, but they are powerless.

Robert Holmgren

Aug. 21, 2011, 7:31 p.m.

“One of the most prominent studies on the stimulus [14] was put out by the economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi in July 2010.”

It would be helpful to remind readers what these economists have gotten right before it happened.  For instance; how well did they predict the collapse of the housing market.

But Zandi sees a somewhat bright side.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-10-05/business/0610050109_1_price-declines-prices-of-new-homes-david-lereah
“Even though this is a very serious correction, that these [market conditions] are things we haven’t seen before, I am still arguing that the economy is going to hold together, that there’s enough strength to overcome housing’s weakness.”

John

Aug. 21, 2011, 9:30 p.m.

“When all taxes, including state and local, are added up, the proportion of GDP going to taxes has been essentially flat for nearly half a century, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

Ah, you didn’t read the article to make your point

Joseph Underwood

Aug. 22, 2011, 4:45 a.m.

Food for thought:

1. Economics is a social science and no social science is empirical. While limited and short term predictions can be made human beings are notorious for creating anomalies which totally screw the predictions up. Also these numbers that everyone keeps spouting are obsolete as soon as they are scribbled down as economics is only certain when talking in snapshots and not flowing time.
2. If you don’t make enough to live comfortably on a year don’t put your money into Wall Street. Those corporations don’t need your money they are swindling you. It’s a ploy to make them too big to fail by making you scared your retirement is gonna be gone. Invest in treasury bonds, land, nonperishable commodities, or a freaking pension fund that works on real interest and not the phantom interest of mutual funds which depend on trends set by fickle humans.
3. Think of every price you see in terms of labor it takes to make it and not just a number. Think of every dollar spent as a vote for the producer of the product and service. If you think they are bad people then don’t buy anything from them. It just makes them more powerful.
4. Realize that in socialism you can’t own anything not even yourself. Just cause a plan shifts some money around don’t mean it’s socialist especially if you can still own your car, house, clothes, children, livestock, food, and the market is still lassaiz faire or however you spell it, etc.
5. Obama isn’t a Nazi and George Bush isn’t the anti-christ. They are just people doing a job and balancing their own self-interests and that of their friends against the other side’s and none of you are on either side. Well some of you might be, but I doubt it as most likely you aren’t part of the elite. Yes this country has an elite, it always has, probably always will. I hate it but that’s the reality. At least you have the hope of maybe one day getting in that circle if your smart, lucky, or evil if evil is defined as any action or being which is selfish to the point of hurting others if it means they get what they want. You most definitely will if your all three.
6. Please God quit the debate and start the discussion. Quit letting these minorities of rich and poor dictate what the larger majority of us in the middle do. Everyone of these freaking forums becomes a bad marriage fight where no one ever figures out a solution. How bout this…everything in the middle stays the same and all the extra taxes we get from the rich will go directly to the poor who will immediately go out and buy stuff giving the middle job security and letting the rich get the money right back. Won’t take but about two months, I mean really look what happens to lottery winners. Just saying….
7. Repeal No Child left behind. NCLB is the biggest epic fail ever. Ask any teacher or administrator. It’s wasting money left and right.
8. Take a hint from FDR and the CCC. Pass a law that says that if you get government benefits you have to work for the government doing something and that these benefits are subsistence wages ie minimum wage. I don’t care if its sitting across the room by the trash can sharpening my pencils and rebounding trash I throw at the can your doing something. You don’t have to work but you get no benefits if you don’t. The only exception are the retired who deserve to sit on their bum as they worked 30 - 50 years paying taxes and deserve a break. For the few years they got left.
9. Make all companies convert 401k’s into non stock pensions funds for those who make under a certain income a year and pass laws to protect them from companies dipping into them or hostile takeovers. People who give their lives laboring for a business deserve to have a secure retirement. For small businesses they can coop for these pension funds.
10. Repeal Obamacare and pass an equal opportunity to healthcare law which forces doctors to give the same insurance discount to everybody regardless of whether they have insurance or not. Everybody wins with this. It forces insurance companies to advocate for everyone yes but: a) it’s stupid to expect a person who can’t afford insurance to be able to pay a bill that is ten times what a person with the insurance discount has to. b) the people with insurance still gets the insurance to pay a percentage of what is left after the discount. c) the insurance companies still make money cause nothing changes for them as the people who can afford it will still have an incentive to get it. d) nothing changes for the doctors cause they still get what they would have got before. e) the rich don’t have to worry about paying extra taxes to support universal healthcare.

Joseph Underwood

Aug. 22, 2011, 4:51 a.m.

Yeah I got one more idea:

Tax lobbyists for every cent they spend lobbying by charging a lobby tax much like sales tax and never make it tax deductible or give a tax credit for it. After all the lobbyist is purchasing a product are they not? At least that way we get more revenue to the Federal government even if the lobbyists are screwing it up half the time.

ibsteve2u

Aug. 22, 2011, 9:13 a.m.

@Albert Meyer:  To “choose one”:  “Libertarians believe in free trade and free markets.”

I seem to have a difficult time finding libertarian voices screaming over the artificial distortion of competitive advantages (or handicaps, depending upon perspective) nation-to-nation.  The libertarian position appears to be that they want the advantages of free trade without the constraints of equitable trade; that is, they prefer the trade inequities that favor those with preexisting wealth rather than workers. 

E.g., no libertarian voices decry China’s lack of environmental regulations.  Am I to assume, then, that you libertarians see environmental regulations as unwanted government interference, and believe that the free market should dictate how many Americans are killed per day by toxic industrial aerosols and particulates?  Do you libertarians believe that the number of Americans killed by industrial pollution of ground water supplies is best left to the free market - that is, if Corporate America kills enough American consumers to threaten their American market, they can be trusted to clean up their act?

Or how about rigged currency exchange rates?  Again, I fail to find “American” libertarian voices demanding that trade with the People’s Republic of China be cut off since they manipulate their currency exchange rate to ensure that the U.S. remains non-competitive. 

Am I to assume that libertarians only despise “government interference” when it does not work to suppress wages in the United States?  When it does not enable a libertarian to produce low offshore and sell high in America? Or put the other way, “government interference” that profits libertarians is “OK”?

Is the “natural” control of “the free market” even a valid assumption when it comes to ensuring the quality and length of life of “worker populations”, given the nature of free trade?  When you can eliminate entire populations and not miss them at all, given the presence of other markets and labor forces elsewhere?  Given the role that automation plays in increasing productivity?  Multiplying the productivity of the individual, thereby making huge amounts of the global population “surplus”?

That is a recognized phenomena….here it is 30 years down the road after Nixon and the Republicans realized they could work with the People’s Republic of China to break the American people, and many Asian nations - to include the PRC - remain content to kill their people off with pollution; de facto evidence that they operate under the assumption that their people are both disposable and replaceable.

I would not have the “libertarians” bring that wanton disregard for the value of life here.

mark smart

Aug. 22, 2011, 9:32 a.m.

Taxes. There is not issue how much taxes individual pays but what one gets for the price and total time spend in work. In developed nation tax include: health care, education, up to 5 weeks vacation, retirement, unemployment, lover car insurance due no injury needs to insured, lower property tax and no school tax. And all worx 1/3 less than average american does.

ibsteve2u

Aug. 22, 2011, 9:33 a.m.

Make that 40 years down the road after Nixon and the Republicans realized that they could weaponize the labor force of the PRC and turn it against the American people.

And 40 years after the same parties altogether missed (or closed their eyes against) the fact that the PRC was thus weaponizing the greed of all wealthy Americans - be they Libertarians, Republicans, or those neoliberal Democrats who tell themselves that “Americans are fat” and so it is “OK” to sacrifice Americans to benefit “the poorer peoples of the world” - and turning it against America.

Time flies when you’re sitting in stunned amazement over the excuses people will make for their demands that government be prohibited from meeting its Constitutional duty of providing a “common defense” if and when that duty involves defending the people against internal enemies - other Americans - who are both the slaves and worshipers of greed.

John

Aug. 22, 2011, 10:27 a.m.

Joseph, I think you’re right on, for the most part.  Most of our economic troubles are from banks convincing us that money itself has some kind of intrinsic value.  It doesn’t (no, not even if it’s gold, because gold isn’t useful enough for its price), and you rightly point out that its only value is in voting, in lending support to someone else.

Albert, it’s not that government CAN’T spend what it doesn’t take, it’s that it WON’T.  Think of all the cultures you’ve heard of that worked on hand-wavy “tally” systems.  East coast Native Americans used mussel shells, Medieval Britons used marked sticks, and so forth.  Governing bodies entered into the system and used their sovereign power to offer assistance to those who supported them, with taxes only existing to keep the stick-based economy from inflating out of control and to maintain control over the people.

Re-read that last phrase again.  Taxes are used to maintain control over the people.  They (with the help of the private central bank, these days) convince us that the resources are fixed, demand their tithe, and leave us to fight over the scraps.

Meanwhile, on those scraps, we’ve explored space, most of us have supercomputers in our pockets, you can fly to nearly any city in the world for a few weeks’ savings at most, several horrible diseases are relics of the past or nearly so (with another bunch likely by 2020), and so forth.  There’s so much abundance that we’re being asked to give up our computers for the cloud, buy inflated health insurance even as people get healthier, and face outright harassment every time we travel.  Hell, just last week, ProPublica floated the idea of turning homeowners into serfs.  And now’s the drumbeat to higher taxes, starting with Joe Biden telling us it’s the patriotic thing to do, during the election.

The resources aren’t fixed, because we’re finding better ways to use things, and that’s scaring the elites terribly.

And on that note, be wary of Libertarians.  Over the last twenty years, their platform has shifted from individual liberty to corporate liberty.  Whether Washington or Google wants to track my every act and thought, I’m against it, and you should be, too.

Steve, both parties are happy to sacrifice the masses to the rich.  Look at the vote counts for the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act that says you’re evil for wanting to adapt a 1923 novel without permission.  Look who’s talking about how we might be better off without all those fussy checks and balances in Washington (couched in the “look how much better Parliamentary Europe is doing” line, even as they collapse).

The Republicans are bad, but you don’t seem to notice that, for all the theatrical fighting, the Democrats are standing right next to them, claiming they’re entirely different as they pass yet another extension to Bush’s wiretapping and torture laws and commend Apple products that were manufactured by suicidal Chinese kids as the American way.

April

Aug. 22, 2011, 10:38 a.m.

I used to think you were objective journalists, but not anymore.

“The Recovery Act is now $830 billion (UP!) due largely to increases in eligibility for entitlement programs and tax credits.”  Ya think? 

Obama and gang spent $68 MILLION just advertising (with our tax dollars) to the “food insecure” to GET ON FOOD STAMPS!!!  He and the Dem’s have encouraged dependency on gov’t!!!  http://www.judicialwatch.org

I’m mortgage insecure.  What number to I call to get my entitlement?!?

Biased reporting—and have noticed it especially with Rick Perry gaining on the GOP side.  Adios…

Michael

Aug. 22, 2011, 9:04 p.m.

More time in work, less vacation equal less time for family and kids. And you ‘ve got Breivik, London riots…
We have two basic economical measurments: GDP and well being. If we look at well being american dream is gone for long time.  Gen X is refusin’ do the same mistake as their parents did. They do not want worx as machines.
http://www.rootsaction.org/news-a-views/206-europes-quiet-revolution

You forget count taxation by inflation and fiat currency.

frens

Aug. 23, 2011, 6:58 a.m.

very well done! Good post!

Bruce

Aug. 23, 2011, 7:46 a.m.

re Gov’t Dependency ... what are defense contractors or the prison industrial complex or the banks & insurance industry, for starters?
With all due respect, “Judicial Watch” is upfront re its bias.

Kay H.

Aug. 23, 2011, 10:56 a.m.

Mike H., there are many ways to splice and dice these numbers as we all know. However, if local taxes have risen as federal taxes have gone down that makes a compelling point in and of itself. It would seem that as the federal gov’t has cut spending the burdens have been passed to local entities and in the end taxpayers gain nothing from federal budget cuts or even lose. It seems to me that Federal politicians just want to shift hard choices down to the local level and it only serves to obfuscate reality.

Shawn

Aug. 23, 2011, 11 a.m.

Pushing taxes down to the local level only applies if you live in a state with taxes.  Reducing taxes at the Federal level is an attempt by some to respect the Constitution.

Kay H.

Aug. 23, 2011, 11:03 a.m.

Shaun—Is there a state without taxes? Seriously?

Shawn

Aug. 23, 2011, 11:08 a.m.

Kay, I should have been more clear.  I meant income taxes.  And it is Shawn, not Shaun :)

Back to the article:  As I stated above, 50% of Americans pay no income taxes, in fact many get a credit back.  With this, the “average” of taxes mentioned in the article simply is not credible.  We have far too many people that will not work and it is time to cut them off.

Kay

Aug. 23, 2011, 11:28 a.m.

Shawn—Everyone pays taxes in every state. Some do it through income taxes and some through sales and property taxes and “fees.” I live in a state with no income tax, but I absolutely pay taxes. They just tend to be more hidden and less difficult to see. And, that 50% you refer to pay a lot of taxes in my state. My “beef” if you will at this point is the obfuscation of real tax rates. It is ridiculous the way politicians shove things under the rug and no one really knows what we are paying in taxes. That is especially true in states with no income tax.

Here’s an example. In my state, if you get a ticket for driving a car with an expired inspection or registration sticker, you will get a ticket. Duh. That ticket can be dismissed if it is less than 30 days and you get the expiration taken care of. Nice. Here’s the part people don’t know unless it has happened to them or someone they know. Two years ago our legislature quietly passed a bill that created a “surcharge” payable to the DMV. If you get a ticket (even if it is dismissed) for driving with an expired license, inspection sticker or registration, you will pay $250 a year for three years or your license will be suspended. This is more than you will pay for speeding or running a red light! The state did nothing to advertise this new “fee” and is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from people who had no idea this was possible.

So, whether it is in the form of an income tax or something else, we will all pay. The question is: how easy is it for us to know what we actually pay, either as individuals or corporately?

Shawn

Aug. 23, 2011, 11:54 a.m.

Kay, I find your statement of hundreds of millions in DMV fees specious.  Also, I clearly revised my statement to focus on INCOME TAX.  Over 50% of the people pay no income tax.  They rarely pay any other taxes under mandate.  Food is not taxed.  Booz and cigarettes are a choice.

In these days of the Internet and government websites, it is exceptionally-easy to learn what is paid.  Also, what does it matter if you know?  How is that going to change your behavior?  Maybe the lesson here is to pay your vehicle registration on time?  Put the deadline on your calendar.

Cutting income taxes has been proven time and time again to encourage job creation.  Cutting the rate also increases net revenues.  This is called the Laffer Curve.

American society is going down the toilet because we have a selfish society.  People have been taught by Liberals that they “deserve” things just by being alive.  I’m tired of my income being stolen from me for wasteful purposes of encouraging people to do nothing.  I’m tired of watching the loser come to the coffee shop on unemployment for over a year and refuse to take a job while ordering a $4 blended drink.  She does work under the table for cash and still gets unemployment.  I’m TIRED of it and many of us are.  No matter now, we are going bankrupt and soon society will be forced to reset.

I’m finished with this thread as I have to get back to working to build my business so Barack can take my money for those that won’t work.

Kay

Aug. 23, 2011, 12:08 p.m.

Shawn—What a joke. Same old same old conservative clap trap. Really? The Laffer Curve? The economic theory that has been debunked so many times it rivals the flat earth theory (or should we say global warming?). http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2010/09/14/the-laffer-curve-debunked-part-one/ (Just one source for updating your education.)

That is the problem with modern conservatism. Its adherents have their heads stuck in textbooks from the 80s (whether economics textbooks or scientific ones). Continuing education is obviously not required. True conservatives would never be “okay” with hidden government fees and the dog and pony shows of modern conservatism. Check out Mickey Edward’s Reclaiming Conservatism, for a fascinating CONSERVATIVE education.

ibsteve2u

Aug. 24, 2011, 10:44 a.m.

@shawn - re:  “American society is going down the toilet because we have a selfish society.  People have been taught by Liberals that they “deserve” things just by being alive.”

1)  Strangely, my observation is that modern conservatives seem too often to fall into the camp of those who have wealth and so start out believing that they are more “worthy” than other American…that they are “job creators”...that they deserve praise, recognition, and reward for being “job creators”. 

They’ve totally lost sight of the fact that they create jobs to further enrich themselves.  And the process by which they become a modern “conservative” is by picking out the conservative position on taxes and interpreting it as enabling tax avoidance…that is, they transform it into another effort to further enrich themselves.

I.e., modern “conservatives” too often are examples of those who believe they “deserve” things merely for being wealthy…that they merit respect, rewards, and…exceptions…unavailable to the many. 

It is one thing to respect those who have launched empires and are indeed “job creators”, but now…now much of the wealth in America has nothing to do with hard work and innovativeness.  Rather, it has been attained by savaging the American industrial and service sectors in order to pocket the margin between American and offshore labor, or by manipulations of the stock and commodities markets.  Both of those methods of wealth harvesting are typically intertwined with the manipulation of politicians to enable activities that are not in the interests of the United States of America or the American people; that is, it is far closer to stealing than to earning.

And there is another source of modern “conservatives”...those who haven’t done squat for their wealth - they merely inherited it and now depend upon compound interest and the ability to stumble onto astute money managers. 

There are two kinds of wealth, in short; “earned” wealth, which often leads to a magnanimous outlook upon life and an appreciation of work and so of those who do work…and “found”/inherited and nearly-but-not-quite-because-the-proper-politicians-were-purchased stolen wealth.

I would deem the latter “unearned” wealth - which is often a petty and vindictive kind of wealth that doesn’t appreciate work and so lumps those who do work into “labor”...a wealth that is often so self-centered that it cannot even distinguish individuals in the mass it terms “labor”...

There are, of course, exceptions to everything…you cannot expect a set mode of behavior from either type of wealth because the individual is an individual, period - no matter how much modern “conservatives” would like to pretend that “job creators” (i.e., “peers”), “consumers”, “labor”, cannon fodder, and “entitlement spending” are the only sets among humanity.

2)  Returning to “People have been taught by Liberals that they “deserve” things just by being alive.”  Americans were taught by our Founding Fathers that they are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness merely for being alive. 

Modern “conservatives” would change that; they seek to create an aristocracy for themselves and chain the many economically; to eliminate the economic mobility of the many…and to shrink or eliminate their government so that they are more accessible as prey - for government is all that stands between those without wealth and those with wealth in a system where wealth defines power…which is what the modern “conservatives” truly seek to create. 

Modern “conservatives” seek to empower themselves with the ability to define the length and quality of life, the limits of individual liberty, and - because America is a capitalistic society - restrict happiness to themselves.

In summary, modern “conservatives” - the right - are bad news for America.

Sam Mandke

Aug. 24, 2011, 11:17 a.m.

Wow, this was a superficial, hodge-podge article thrown together with piggy-backed facts from other news outlets.  This is an example of Internet reporting at its worst.  I expect more from ProPublica. 

The statements regarding infrastructure investment are deeply misleading for one reason: it presumes that you cannot teach home builders how to build a bridge.  There might have to be some training involved, but the number of jobs available for infrastructure projects in this country that are needed far outweighs the number of laid off workers in construction, home and civil.

This article is more of the perennial regurgitation of “center” wisdom that contains no imagination, vision, and doesn’t ask the hard questions.

Greg Olson

Aug. 27, 2011, 10:57 a.m.

I’m curios to know what proportion of my taxes on 32,000 dollars per year go to helping poor people, infrastructure, and education versus how much of it goes to all these policing agencies like Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and how much am I spending to subsidize the wealthy from tax give backs?

Mark

Aug. 28, 2011, 9:32 a.m.

Shawn, when you say “Half of the people in America pay no taxes” you are dead wrong. First off, you are referring to Federal Income Tax only when you say this. The full tax burden of the public includes payroll taxes for medicare and social security, which for working class families is a higher percentage of wages than it is for the wealthy. Why? Because the government caps Social Security taxes on the first $107k of income only. Also, you ignore local and state taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, and other fees to the government which are all regressive tax structures. If you look at the total burden of payments to the government, the middle class and the poor pay very heavy percentages of their income to the government. The wealthy, on the other hand, have never had it so good—their rates are very low.

Shawn

Aug. 28, 2011, 9:45 a.m.

Mark, I am very well aware of the other taxes, etc.  That is fair that people are taxed on what they use.  As far as Social Security taxes, since this program was designed to provide limited funds to supplement retirement, you would only tax the premium necessary to provide the coverage promised.

To say the wealthy have it good illuminates the problem: Class Warfare.  It is time to get people off the couch and working instead of sucking up welfare.  Anyone that wants to raise taxes in this environment is a damn fool.  We need to encourage a stable tax environment to encourage investment in new business for a recovery.  Let’s do a 0% rate on the $2 Trillion on U.S. corporation’s overseas divisions to repatriate that and invest it here.

If people continue to blame all rich people for their problems and continue to try and steal from them, they will legally move their money out of the U.S. economy and then things will continue to get worse.  Let go of your irrational hate of the rich.

Bruce

Aug. 28, 2011, 10:05 a.m.

Where does this utter crap about the vast majority of people in this country not pulling their weight come from? Do people & institutions of
great wealth have enough or do they literally require the blood & oxygen of all the rest? The interesting thing about the Right is that whatever it accuses others of is a mirror of itself .... wrapped in the flag & defecating into it.

The over-class lacks any class. Too many regulations? OK. Let’s deep six certificates of incorporation, patents, copyrights, franchises, licenses, leases (especially those in perpetuity), mortgages, deeds, liens ..... All PUBLIC guarantees of some level of government.

ibsteve2u

Aug. 28, 2011, 7:16 p.m.

@Bruce:  You made me laugh! 

Not because of your statement - which I couldn’t agree with more; the wealthy who call themselves Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, or whatever do indeed want to keep any and all things government that empower or protect them even as they simultaneously demand that we eliminate any government that interferes with their ability to prey upon the American people - but at the thought of the right having to operate without the system of legislated economic chains they’ve bound the American people with.

Said vision, in turn, made me realize what too many of America’s right really are:  The stereotypical fly-by-night used-car salesman. 

lollll…the right will use the law - patents, deeds, mortgages, letters of incorporation as culpability shields and political tools, etc. - to extract wealth from you.

Just like a shady used-car lot will be all over you if you miss a payment - to include repossessing your vehicle if you are late on the very last payment.

But when you attempt to get them to fulfill all of the promises they made to America…e.g., when you query them about the absence of all of the wonderful jobs they promised in return for “flood-up/trickle-down” economics, deregulation, and inequitable free trade…they start inventing excuses for why there aren’t any and demanding that you be held accountable for their lack instead of them - that is, they blame you for the fact that everything they said was a lie.

Just like when you try to hold said shady used-car lot to their advertised warranties and claims and instead of their assuming responsibility and “doing the right thing”, you get nothing but excuses and accusations that you did not perform routine maintenance, drove or handled the vehicle in a “non-typical” manner, etc. etc. etc.

Of course, the resemblance between the right and a shady used-car salesman is most evident in the pitchmen they’ve got running for President.

lolllll…

Albert Meyer

Sep. 1, 2011, 8:29 a.m.

Here is another example of what happens when we allow government to confiscate our hard-earned wages and “invest” it on our behalf:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A California solar-panel manufacturer once touted by President Barack Obama as a beneficiary of his administration’s economic policies — as well as a half-billion-dollar federal loan — is laying off 1,100 workers and filing for bankruptcy.
Solyndra LLC of Fremont, Calif., had become the poster child for government investment in green technology. The president visited the company in May 2010 and noted that Solyndra expected to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels. Other state and federal officials such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Energy Secretary Steven Chu also visited the company’s facilities.

But hard times have hit the nation’s solar industry. Solyndra is the third solar company to seek bankruptcy protection this month. Officials said Wednesday that the global economy as well as unfavorable conditions in the solar industry combined to force the company to suspend its manufacturing operations.

The price for solar panels has tanked largely because of heavy competition from Chinese companies, dropping by about 42 percent this year…

“Unfortunately, Solyndra is just the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus, emblematic of an economic policy that has not worked and will not work. We hope this informs the president ahead of his address to Congress next week,” the GOP lawmakers said.

When Obama, who is seeking to address Congress to unveil a new jobs plan, toured the company’s facilities, he said the investment was important because more clean energy would benefit the environment, the economy and national security.

“The future is here,” Obama said during his visit. “We’re poised to transform the ways we power our homes and our cars and our businesses. ... And we are poised to generate countless new jobs, good-paying, middle-class jobs, right here in the United States of America.”

In a blog posting, Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow said Solyndra was a once promising company that had increased sales revenue by 2,000 percent in the past three years. The $535 million loan guarantee was sought by both the Bush and Obama administrations, he said, and private investors put more than $1 billion into Solyndra.

“We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy,” Leistikow said.

Brian Harrison, Solynda’s president and CEO, said that raising capital became impossible.

“This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate,” Harrison said in a statement.

Another solar company, Spectrawatt Inc. of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 19. Its CEO said in the filing that it could not compete with solar manufacturers in China, which receive “considerable government and financial support.”
Spectrawatt’s filing came four days after Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlboro, Mass., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.”

itso same

Sep. 1, 2011, 6:34 p.m.

ummm, found some interesting stuff on the ‘recovery act’ ...loan program, ‘big’ solar company, that is about to tank (surprizingly NOT listed in your section 5 of this article)...check out ‘muniland.com ‘s cate long’ for the quick summary with hyperlinks http://blogs.reuters.com/muniland/2011/08/31/dirty-solar/

itso same;)

Bruce

Sep. 1, 2011, 9:34 p.m.

US Government confiscation? What is Chinese government supported predatory pricing? With all due respect to those who think America’s governments always gets its wrong, what would you substitute in their place?

Bruce

Sep. 2, 2011, 8:44 a.m.

ibsteve2u

Sep. 2, 2011, 12:53 p.m.

@Albert Meyer:  Did you not read the sentence “The price for solar panels has tanked largely because of heavy competition from Chinese companies, dropping by about 42 percent this year…”?

I get a kick out of you people on the right; you claim you are patriots, but because you profit from the fact that the Communists in China rig their currency exchange rate to render the United States of America non-competitive (thereby using the greed of the American right as the ultimate indefensible weapon) you point to a Communist success as a victory for the ideology of the American right.

Or, to my way of thinking, you underline the fact that the American right - the Republicans, the Tea Party, the libertarians; any and all variants of modern “conservatives - and the Communists in China are in league against the American people and the United States of America.

And they’re winning.

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