Germany, France push for Massively Stupid Tax!!!

 

 

This is from the I’m entirely dumbfounded dept.

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany and France asked the European Commission on Friday to draft proposals for a financial transactions tax involving at least nine countries, after they failed to win backing for such a levy across the entire European Union.

So let me try and understand this.  Today, we have printing presses around the globe printing money like crazy.  The US is in their 3rd effort (QE3) to ignite economic activity by flooding our economy with cheap money.  Europe is engaged in a very similar practice.  China and Japan are following suit.  There is literally $trillions just sitting there and no one is moving the capital around.  This is why the globe is on the edge of a financial implosion. 

So this is their solution?  France and Germany wants to tax the movement of capital?  What the hell?  It is true that there are too many shell games going on with money and that should stop but taxing transactions in a world where too few transactions are occurring is beyond me.  Can someone explain how this is suppose to help the recession Europe is in? 

Or do they think this will slow the exodus of wealth from increases in taxes like France’s recently approved 75% tax on their wealthy?  I don’t know. 

“The German government, together with the French government, will continue to advocate emphatically for the integration process and work on convincing the other member states, so that the circle of those who participate in the enhanced co-operation on the financial transaction tax becomes as big as possible.”

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175 Responses to Germany, France push for Massively Stupid Tax!!!

  1. DirkH says:

    My socialist Spiegel-reading coworkers rail against evil high frequency traders at the moment; that’s the current scapegoat in the German media narrative. Pretty funny – one of them said something like “Globalization bad, high frequency traders evil, some cancer drugs are already scarce because only one company in the world makes them and they got shut down because of violation of a regulation, free market evil.”

    I went on a lengthy tirade, explaining the word “non sequitur” to him (there were several in his chain of sentences that SOUNDED like arguments but were not). He got the entire drivel from Der Spiegel or from public TV; well, I think the UNTHINKING DEPTH that is Germany is worse than this planned transaction tax.

    When it’s implemented I’ll increase the losses my trading strategies make in the evolution and the strategies will adapt accordingly. The number of trades they make will accordingly drop somewhat.

    Everybody will do this; market liquidity will drop; numbers of transactions will drop. This means there will be larger price swings, and we’ll make about the same money as before but the market will oscillate more wildly.

    Very simple really – I like oscillating markets.

    • suyts says:

      When I day traded I counted on the oscillating events. I may have to go back to doing so, but I don’t like the short time period they have anymore. So, yes, this may work to our advantage for a moment. But, if we drop market liquidity, we’re in for a very rude awakening.

      • DirkH says:

        I’m very low frequency. Can be as low as two trades a year. Can’t do daytrading due to job. Would like to do more but computer disapproves.

  2. I don’t think “too much liquidity” is ever a problem. But there’s a point past which it doesn’t matter and there’s a certain amount of frictional costs we can accept.
    (btw I think I’m a pretty big liberal and/or socialist but I certainly like this blog)

    • suyts says:

      bijan, welcome!

      Sorry about the wait on getting the comment approved. Now that you’ve commented, there won’t be any moderation.

      I’ve never gone into detail about why one can have “too much liquidity’. And it’s probably best for a post or series of posts. But, I’ll try just briefly.

      We have all of this capital just sitting around. No one’s moving it because there’s really no place to put it. Typically, when this happens eventually they find some place to put it and it creates a bubble, be it the “.com” or housing or whatever. It always ends in tears and heartbreak.

      I think we’ve gone even beyond that point. I think that once our economies start to move all of this extra capital will flood our economies. The housing collapse will look like a walk in the park, comparatively.

      You also said, “I think I’m a pretty big liberal and/or socialist but I certainly like this blog.” I thank you for that. I look forward to engaging in thoughtful dialogue with you and others.

      • I agree with everything you say, but now I am confused.

        Liquidity as far as I understand means that there is little cost to moving capital around (cost of transaction is low).

        If there is too much liquidity there are at least two solutions that I know to reduce it:
        1. Tax transactions (will reduce number of transactions and reduce liquidity)

        2. Tax idle capital (will cause people to seek profit, rather than hold on waiting for a temporary dip in the market that they can take advantage of). It might sound that it is impossible to tax capital, but that is what inflation is. It is the devaluation of currency. That means that any money sitting around not gathering interest or not invested in a business is losing value, because it is currency and not investment. How this reduces liquidity is that it reduces the amount of free cash sitting around.

      • suyts says:

        I see you were truthful in your assessment of your economic views.

        The thing is you don’t want to tax either of the situations. I believe one should address the underlying causes. I should have been clearer about what I was saying. It is a confusing economic state we are in.

        We do have low cost transactions. But, we don’t have much movement. Various countries are printing money like crazy in an effort to spur such movement. But, it isn’t happening. You are entirely correct “It might sound that it is impossible to tax capital, but that is what inflation is. It is the devaluation of currency. “

        So, at this moment, to tax transactions would be to defeat the purpose of the printing money.

        One of the problem with taxes is that they never go away.

        • DirkH says:

          Hmm, no, the purpose of the money printing is not to have it move around a lot. It is to recapitalize the banks who are losing money through previous malinvestments. (Bad housing credit in the US, in Spain, bad fovt debt in Greece). They are still losing money as they are over time writing off more and more bad assets.

          And you want to recapitalize the banks so they can multiply the money (through fractional reserve banking) and buy lots of govt debt. Otherwise no takers for the govt debt and your govt will default. We have hit the liquidity wall: Available liquidity worldwide does not suffice anymore to buy all the debt issued by the US and the EU. Without artificially produced liquidity, this would result in rising interest rates, as every state would compete with the others for the remaining liquidity.

          It’s the Nuttle Debt Wall.
          http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/20/marc-nuttles-debt-wall-and-why-barack-obamas-presidency-may-crash-into-it/

        • suyts says:

          potato/potatoe. We’re just talking different stages of development of this mess. Currently, the US is printing money in efforts to jump-start our economy. Yes, they want the banks to recapitalize on the housing loans, but our housing is just a small part of our problem.

        • I think the underlying problem is that there is lots of cash lying and no one is investing it in the real economy, which would mean using it to grow American businesses and create jobs.

          The underlying cause of this is that it is more profitable to do so, both because it is more profitable for those with billions of cash to manipulate financial markets and because productivity is low and so there really is low return on investment.

          As to productivity here’s an article from Fortune magazine:
          “Porter backed up his research with a survey of HBS’ 50,000 alumni, who overwhelmingly affirmed his grim assessment. Of those directly involved in making decisions about locating operations, for example, 1,000 were considering whether to move something out of the United States and only 150 were thinking about moving something in. The top reason: American productivity is not strong enough to justify higher wages.

          Meanwhile, the rest of the world has made huge strides closing the gap on advantages we’ve long taken for granted, upgrading their infrastructure, boosting their education systems and rooting out corruption. “Our problem isn’t that we’re horrible,” Porter said. “Our problem is that we’re just not getting better.”””

          http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/09/06/michael-porter-harvard/

          As to keeping cash around you can look at Apple and Microsoft both of which have tens of billions of dollars sitting around in cash that they can’t think of a way to invest profitably.

          The solutions I provided punish manipulating the financial markets through short term transactions. Also they provide an incentive to invest the money for profit, by punishing the hoarding of cash. And as such the purpose of the taxes was not to fund anything, I would recommend them even if the tax moneys was thrown away. They are merely economic incentives. They’re not so much meant to be a school tax, as much as like a parking ticket or speeding ticket.

          They do not address the elephant in the room which is the low productivity in America, which is due to 30 years of decreases in social investment by the US government: infrastructure, education, health care.

          They do

        • DirkH says:

          “They are merely economic incentives. They’re not so much meant to be a school tax, as much as like a parking ticket or speeding ticket.”

          I always thought of them as a desperate measure by broke governments to try to survive and continue spending and embezzling more than they get in taxes. Basically, plain old money printing.

  3. suyts says:

    @ bijansoleymani thanks for the discussion points.

    I don’t necessarily agree that we’ve decreased our spending in education and infrastructure improvements or health care. Nor do I think your proposals would work. On one hand you would tax them to move money, and then on the other you would tax them for not moving money. Even businesses engaged in “real” economic activities need to move money when necessary and save money when necessary. So, you’d also be punishing people in the pursuit we’d like them to be.

    But, there’s even a more fundamental disagreement I have with the ideas. You would confiscate wealth from other people because you don’t like what they’re doing with their money. This is contrary to a free society. While I do agree that we should do more to root out corruption, I see little evidence more taxes achieves such a goal.

    Every developed nation has a decrease in productivity to wage ratio compared to developing nations. There’s nothing to be done about that except to help develop nations. Yes, a factory worker in China will produce more than me in terms of dollars paid for production. But, labor costs aren’t typically the largest expenses of businesses. Far from it.

    I would also point to a near global recession we are all in right now. This isn’t a unique US difficulty per se. There are differences in the specifics as Dirk has pointed out. Focusing on the US for the moment. People aren’t using the capital to invest in a “real economy” because the US is hostile to the notion. One of the biggest problems we see in the US and other places is the soaring cost of energy and fuel. We’ve levied an “insurance tax” which no one really knows how this will effect the labor costs and market. We have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, we have so many barriers in place it would be impossible to list them all.

    There are two other points I’d like to make about the energy and fuel costs and how they pertain to our base economy. I’ve often stated that we need to move away from service and back to making tangible things. Wealth, real wealth is derived from the ground. There isn’t production of anything until you gather materials necessary. Be it furniture making or steel fabrication, we need to gather it from the ground.. Given the US’ open hostility to drilling our own oil, our utilizing our coal, our increased in electric rates, the cost of fuel today and the potential for it to go much higher, why would anyone move their capital to such a location? Our economy won’t grow because it can’t grow. You can’t build more widgets while we shut down electric generation plants. You can’t fire up more big earth moving machines when the cost of fuel skyrockets and additional supply is thwarted and throttled.

    It’s as simply as this……. More production requires more energy and fuel. The more this is available, the cheaper it would be, the more incentive for production and investment for production occurs. There are still many problems, but until this is corrected no significant real economic growth can be expected in either Europe or the US.

    More to say, but, I fear I’ve already become long winded.

    • Hi Suyt,

      As to our fundamental disagreement, you are correct it would restrict freedom. The freedom to hoard tens or hundreds of billions of dollars when unemployment is at historic highs. Also the freedom for the richest people (not the billionaires, but the richest among the billionaires) to manipulate financial markets.

      Now compare this to every other crime and punishment we accept in society. The US is one of the only civilized countries in the world with a death penalty, which I’m not necessarily against, but which is the ultimate elimination of freedom by the government. Americans also accept that they can go to jail for possession of small quantities of drugs. If we accept that our physical freedom should be limited for such behavior, it seems to be that we can accept that our economic freedom should be limited for other behavior.

      And it is interesting to see what the founding father had to say about taxes:
      Benjamin Franklin (one of the strongest defenders of freedom):
      First his more famous quote about the subject:
      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin
      “Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter.

      And then his lesser known one that might shock you even more:
      “The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People’s Money out of their Pockets, tho’ only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors’ Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell’d to pay by some Law.

      All Property, indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

      This is while he believed that:
      “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

      But yes I do think that the freedom to hoard cash (decrease investment in the economy) and decrease free trade (through market manipulation), are not “freedoms” we should protect.

      • DirkH says:

        Wow, a moral justification for inflation.

        If inflation is just, is a lot of inflation better than a little bit of inflation?

        • Hi Dirk,

          No a lot of inflation is bad. The basic reason being that if inflation is greater than the rate of return of investments then there is no way to win.

          Let’s say that we can make 10% annual profit with good sound investments. If inflation is 2% or 3% or maybe 4%, it might be good because it will encourage us to do that.

          If inflation is 10%, then it eats up all the profits. And if it is higher then we end up losing.

          I mean it’s not entirely that simple because when you invest money a large chunk of it ends up as long term things like buildings and land, which also increases in dollar value, with inflation.

          But everything except land also depreciates over time, and so I don’t think you can do much to deal with high inflation except buy gold and real estate.

        • DirkH says:

          “No a lot of inflation is bad. The basic reason being that if inflation is greater than the rate of return of investments then there is no way to win.”

          Ok, that’s a reasonable threshold.

      • suyts says:

        I think you’re making some false equivalencies.

        The taxes Ben was talking about were taxes to run the government. As you stated above, this wouldn’t be the purpose of the taxes, but, rather to modify behavior. Indeed, given your previous paragraphs, you equated this to a criminal penalty. And, you’re right, your tax proposals would amount to criminal penalties. Why not just make it a crime to save money? Why not make it a crime to move money? Well, when put in those terms…..

        Then, tell me, what happens when it becomes apparent that there aren’t enough private capital reserves?

        Of course, all of this ignores what is suppose to happen. Economies cycle back and forth. This is a good thing. Like the horrible floods and natural forest fires, these things are necessary for the over-all health of a system. The problem isn’t a recession that we had. The problem is the intervening solutions. More errant intervention to fix errant intervention never works. And this is what happened here. We didn’t allow the recession to do the proper cleansing. If we had, our economies would already be recovered and growing.

        • Hi Suyt,

          I agree. I guess I am advocating criminal fines and penalties. But not to save money. Inflation would not make it impossible to have money saved in forms that bear interest. It would make it expensive to save money in forms that do not (cash and cash equivalents).

          And yes this is done. I believe South Korea (the free capitalist one, not the crazy one that is terrorizing its citizens) had a (possibly symbolic) death penalty for exporting capital, at one point, in order to force local industrialists to build up their national economy.

          I also agree that bailing out the people who caused the bubble was wrong (rewards their behavior) and sends the wrong message (you can probably get away with this again).

          Bijan

        • suyts says:

          This is the tricky area we are seeing in today’s economies. We’re actually seeing two very different things working in tandem against a good economy.

          The first one is that most governments simply spend too much. Dirks “Nuttle Debt Wall.”. The globe has gone or will go beyond the ability to pay for all of the spending. But, beyond spending, most western economies have placed unnatural barriers to growth, as well.

          So, my solutions, although not as complex as fine tuning a couple of dichotomous taxes, I would think, be more successful. Remove the barriers and limit the spending. I really believe it doesn’t take anything more than that.

  4. Of course there’s also a flip side that if inflation is 4%, then people will not be able to make investments that have a lower rate of return than that. So you only want it when people are actually hoarding. If the economy is hosed and there really is no good thing to invest in then it is bad.

    But the American economy has a lot of room for investment.

  5. In response to:
    “The taxes Ben was talking about were taxes to run the government.”

    He also said:
    “But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition.”

    Since the billions of dollars was made from American industry (which is often heavily subsidized by taxes from the public), the American people can dispose of it, when the Welfare of the public requires it.

    Bijan

    • To be specific. Something like a trillion dollars of taxpayer money was used to bail out the banks. The idea that we can’t put legal pressure on them to invest that money to grow the American economy and create American jobs is bizarre.

    • suyts says:

      Render unto Caesar? Wouldn’t it be better to simply not subsidize them? BTW, I’m glad you don’t work for E Warren.

      • Yes that is true. If we believed in capitalism we shouldn’t have done it. But since we’ve done it ever since WW2 and since the ultra-rich that benefited from all those subsidies now own 50 or 60% of all the wealth in the country…

  6. “So, my solutions, although not as complex as fine tuning a couple of dichotomous taxes, I would think, be more successful. Remove the barriers and limit the spending. I really believe it doesn’t take anything more than that.”

    I agree that is a better solution. I was just defending the sensibleness of the other two solutions (which mainly curb excesses, they don’t actually fix the fundamental problems).

    But the difficulty in the US is that the two main expenses that need to be cut are: defense/military spending, which is out of control (4.7% of the entire economy) and health care spending which is also out of control (16% of the economy, when other countries are 8%-10%). And those are going to be difficult to cut, given the power of those industries to scare the public into believing what they want them to believe.

    • suyts says:

      Well, I’m for a strong defense, but, less intervention. I think trimming the military would be fairly easy, especially if we remove ourselves from foreign entanglements. The term “health care” probably needs divided and defined a bit more. It conjures many things. But, there are some simple things we could do there as well to trim the growth.

      Recall, to get us towards a balanced budget, all we have to do is ensure the growth of govt spending is less than the growth of the economy. Assuming the recent years are outliers, if we just cap spending to 2% increase, we’re pretty much done.

      • DirkH says:

        Please look at the last graph on this page. The brown line is defense spending as part of GDP.
        You have nearly the lowest defense spending as percentage of GDP since WW II. Doesn’t look out of control to me. I know, sounds sursprising.
        http://www.die.net/musings/national_debt/

      • suyts says:

        Yes, it is surprising. I still think we can trim it up a bit, but that goes for every other govt dept and agency we have. But, that’s why I’m not worried much about it. If we remove ourselves from our entanglements, we’ve pretty much accomplished a large reduction in debt spending.

        Our left always complains about our military spending, but the procurement and spending procedures are essentially the same govt. wide. It’s a bit funny. If they would apply the same scrutiny to their sacred cows as they do the military spending we’d probably not have a debt problem. But, they don’t. For some reason military $200 toilet seats are not acceptable. But, for other agencies and depts equally egregious spending rarely makes the news.

      • Everyone is for strong defense (well anyone who cares about our safety). But it is hard to see how foreign wars and entanglements help our safety. Life if Saudi Arabia was afraid of Saddam, they should pay for that war. If China is threatening Japan, then Japan should pay for their defense.

        • suyts says:

          Agreed. However, if we take such a policy, we know the odds of conflict greatly increases. It would further tend to increase the militarization of many, many nations. This is one of the reasons why we engage in significant military spending.

  7. DirkH says:

    In 2005, the Maldives spent an est. 5.5% of their GDP on military; the US 4.06%. Militaristic Maldives!
    Source: CIA world factbook:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2034rank.html?countryName=Germany&countryCode=gm&regionCode=eur&rank=98#gm

    • suyts says:

      Those bastards!! We’re losing the arms race with the Maldives!!!

    • You want to look at comparable countries. Like how many times more are we spending than the maldives? If they spent 100% plus borrowed and spent another 100% they would still be a tiny fraction of us, so that doesn’t count.

      China spends 2%, and spend 5 times less in dollar amount than US and it is the second biggest spender in the world. Russia is only 2/3 of them in spending (but also a little over 5%), and everyone else much lower yet.

      • suyts says:

        It’s humor bij, humor.

      • DirkH says:

        What does count is that the burden of the military on the Maldives economy is 5% of GDP while it is only 4.x percent for the US. I intentionally used an absurd comparison; but the burden on the economy is comparable nevertheless.

        The US does indeed spend a lot on the Military. But it’s not growing out of control, that’s what I wanted to show.

        • DirkH says:

          And furthermore, the chart I linked to shows that the elevated level of US mil expenditure stems from WW II and the following cold war, so it has historical roots.

          Can the US now ramp it down, for instance to a level of 1% like Germany has? No, because a new enemy is arising, a neo caliphate with a dozen nuclear armed countries that controls its populations by directing all anger towards the US. Iran will not stay the only country with nukes and a fanatical religious government. Pakistan already is one. Whether mutually assured destruction will impress them remains to be seen, as at least some Muslim sects are of an apocalyptic bend, and we can expect attempts of smuggling a nuke into a Western country by a suicide commando. Avoid important symbolic targets like NYC.

  8. In response to:
    “Agreed. However, if we take such a policy, we know the odds of conflict greatly increases. It would further tend to increase the militarization of many, many nations. This is one of the reasons why we engage in significant military spending.”

    Yes most of the countries we militarize (Japan, Germany, etc.) would have to militarize themselves. However I don’t think that those countries are the ones we are worried about turning the tables on us. And if they wanted to both of those could develop nukes under our noses…

    Do the odds of conflict increase? Maybe. Do the odds of conflict in the Western hemisphere (Americas) increase? I can’t see how they would… And that’s our defense and safety of ourselves. Defense and safety of our economic and political interests… I would argue pursuing them through military means are expensive. Better to shift the burden on them and invest the money at home.

    • suyts says:

      It isn’t so much as “turning the tables on us“, but rather to be seen as abandoning our allies and important partners. Consider the implications if it was thought that we wouldn’t intervene in hypothetical conflicts in Europe. There are many areas which could ignite without much impetus. Russia has still taken an aggressive stance towards many countries. As you noted, Japan and China have an antagonist relationship. The mid-east is already a tender-box. I’m not so much worried about the U.S. as I am our friends. Though I do agree they should contribute more for the common defense.

      “Do the odds of conflict in the Western hemisphere (Americas) increase? I can’t see how they would…” ——— An interesting assertion of the Monroe Doctrine. Though I would point to the antagonism between Columbia and Venezuela.

      • DirkH says:

        Don’t know about ongoing contributions but Germany sent some billions to the US in past NATO/UN-organized wars where Germany wouldn’t contribute troups. For instance during Gulf War I. It’s not reported widely.

      • As to the first issue, what you describe is a question of perception. As the populations of those countries are generally opposed to our current arrangement, in some cases strongly so, this can be used to good effect to counter that perception.

        Specifically we could heed the call of Japanese civilians to remove American bases from Japan, while putting up a front of protest and insisting that Japan should not be abandoned. Exactly the same story we are telling now, except now we are serious. We should simply follow through with a willingness to leave if Japan can insure its own defenses, which it most certainly can.

        At the same time the popular perception around the world that Germany and Japan are the most peaceful nations should have a positive effect on perceptions as well, making the rest of the world feel that they are more and not less secure.

        As to the second question, yes this is precisely the Monroe doctrine, except extended to Asia as well, as I believe it was under Teddy Roosevelt (except he favored Japanese military expansion). And though I don’t know about Columbia vs Venezuela, I find it hard to believe it has anything to do with Japan or Germany. In fact relative withdrawal overseas, should make other areas of the globe apprehensive about the newly freed resources.

        • suyts says:

          And though I don’t know about Columbia vs Venezuela, I find it hard to believe it has anything to do with Japan or Germany.
          ==========================================
          Well, it has nothing to do with them. The dynamics to that relationship is that Columbia is anti-leftist. The drug lords of Columbia had support and ties to Venezuela. This led to much sabre rattling in the area. The US support in Columbia has deterred more open and guerrilla hostilities, though I haven’t kept up as much as I would like. But, that’s the parallel I was trying to draw.

          Personally, I’d be much more interested in protecting our sphere of influence, such as our NATO allies than I would be bothered about the constantly unstable nations of Latin America.

  9. In response to:
    “No, because a new enemy is arising, a neo caliphate with a dozen nuclear armed countries that controls its populations by directing all anger towards the US.”

    As to the situation in Islamic countries it is somewhat complicated, as
    many different things are taking place in different places. The social activities and support which comes from religious
    groups is very significant in some countries, notably Turkey, Lebanon
    and Egypt, where there are many charities and support systems run by
    Muslim groups, and which are lacking in those countries, due to a broken
    political system and corruption, etc. In other countries Islamic groups
    represents the one form of organized opposition to the government which
    can’t be totally crushed by the brutal ruling classes (part of what
    brought about the Islamic revolution in Iran). In other countries
    Islamic groups are or serve the brutal ruling classes (Saudi Arabia,
    Afghanistan under the Taliban, Iran). Another factor in Iran for instance (but
    I believe also in Pakistan, and Afghanistan), is that the country is
    still in large part pre-modern, and has many different ethnic groups,
    the Islamic religion is the only factor common to a majority of the
    population, and an overwhelming majority at something close to 97% or
    98%, the largest linguistic or ethnic group is under 50%, perhaps forty
    some odd percent. Of course other countries have the opposite problem
    that the Muslim population is divided between Sunni and Shiite (or other
    such divisions, that mirror the Catholic/Protestant division within
    Christianity), which leads to tension rather than unity.

    The case of Libya is particularly significant though unfortunately I
    don’t know all the intimate details. Essentially the country was run by a secular
    dictator Gaddafi, for the benefit of local elites, though serving
    western interests, and his regime maintained some form of order through
    the usual non-democratic means and repression of the local population.
    This government was toppled by a rebel faction, with much help and
    support from NATO forces, mostly so that European countries could get
    even more direct and profitable access to Libya. In this case the United
    States was not particularly interested or eager, rather neutral, but
    went ahead with it, probably not to be left out, or to gain European
    support for other operations it does care about in the future (of course
    this is not to say the Americans were opposed on moral grounds, simply
    that they didn’t see any profit in it for themselves). And so the
    secular dictator was overthrown, the country became unstable, and it is
    likely that Islamic militants will take over.

    What looks to have happened recently is some Islamic militia attacked a
    US consulate and murdered several people, including Chris Stevens, the
    American diplomat. This is supposedly in response to some film which
    makes fun of Muslims or Mohammad or some such thing, but one really has
    to doubt the religious sensitivity of an armed militia which is seeking
    political power through the use of arms.

    The actions seem to have been unpopular and have driven the population
    to protest against the militias (even pro government malitias) as is
    described here (and which I heard reported on CBC radio this weekend as
    well, though nothing about opposition to pro-government militias, or
    militant rule in general, simply how much the Libyans mourn the loss of
    Mr. Stevens and how they drove his murderers away):

    “On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling
    for the support of the rule of law and for an end to armed
    militias.[9][54] Carrying signs with slogans such as “We Want Justice
    For Chris” and “Libya Lost a Friend,” the protestors stormed several
    militia headquarters, including Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia who
    some allege played a role in the attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel on
    September 11.[10][55] At least 10 people were killed and dozens more
    wounded as militiamen fired on demonstrators at the headquarters of
    Sahaty Brigade, a pro-government militia “operating under the authority
    of the ministry of defence.”[9][55][56] By early the next morning, the
    protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a
    number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside.[10][55]
    Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and
    looted weapons.[9][54][55] The militia compounds and many weapons were
    handed over to Libya’s national army[54] in what “appeared to be part of
    a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and
    activists” following the earlier demonstrations.[10][55] Some militia
    members accused the protestors of being Qaddafi loyalists, looking to
    disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.[54]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_U.S._Consulate_attack_in_Benghazi#Libyan_response

    • DirkH says:

      I see that the media/the wikipedia are starting to bolster that ridiculous story with colorful details. Probably nobody believed its first incarnation.

      Sure, that’s the way you get rid of Al Qaeda.

      • That’s not my point. My point is that we spent a relatively small sum of 1 or 2 billion dollars in Libya to get rid of a secular dictator and replace him with military and para-military militias, some of which are fanatical Islamic ones.

        Is that the way to get rid of Al Qaeda?

  10. In response to the threat of a pan-Islamic union threatening the West. I believe a major failure of the Right and the Left is to gather accurate intelligence.

    The military and intelligence community probably have better data, but they are institutionally biased in favor of intervention.

  11. In response to:
    The term “health care” probably needs divided and defined a bit more. It conjures many things.

    Yes I mean specifically health insurance.

    There are essentially 3 ways to organize health insurance:
    public insurance (Canada, England, France)
    private non-profit insurance (Switzerland)
    private for-profit insurance (America)

    (in all cases health providers are a mix of public and private, though the presence and prevalence of private hospitals in particular does vary quite a bit)

    And here are the results of how much of the GDP is spent:

    And how much is spent per capita:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_(PPP)_per_capita

    and how much of that is paid for by the government:
    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.PUBL

    According to that the US government pays for half of the costs of the most expensive medical system in the world.

    While those other countries I mentioned vary between (60% in Switzerland to 85% in France), but only reach US levels of government spending in France.

    Much of it because of administrative costs (in other words the costs of having a system where insurance companies are allowed to gouge the public and are protected by the nanny state).

    An article from Harvard Medical school
    “Health care administration in the United States and Canada:
    micromanagement, macro costs.
    Woolhandler S, Campbell T, Himmelstein DU.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15088673

    “A decade ago, U.S. health administration costs greatly exceeded Canada’s.
    Have the computerization of billing and the adoption of a more
    business-like approach to care cut administrative costs? For the United
    States and Canada, the authors calculated the 1999 administrative costs of
    health insurers, employers’ health benefit programs, hospitals,
    practitioners’ offices, nursing homes, and home care agencies; they
    analyzed published data, surveys of physicians, employment data, and
    detailed cost reports filed by hospitals, nursing homes, and home care
    agencies; they used census surveys to explore time trends in
    administrative employment in health care settings. Health administration
    costs totaled at least dollar 294.3 billion, dollar 1,059 per capita, in
    the United States vs. dollar 9.4 billion, dollar 307 per capita, in
    Canada. After exclusions, health administration accounted for 31.0 percent
    of U.S. health expenditures vs. 16.7 percent of Canadian. Canada’s
    national health insurance program had an overhead of 1.3 percent, but
    overhead among Canada’s private insurers was higher than in the U.S.: 13.2
    vs. 11.7 percent. Providers’ administrative costs were far lower in
    Canada. Between 1969 and 1999 administrative workers’ share of the U.S.
    health labor force grew from 18.2 to 27.3 percent; in Canada it grew from
    16.0 percent in 1971 to 19.1 percent in 1996. Reducing U.S. administrative
    costs to Canadian levels would save at least dollar 209 billion annually,
    enough to fund universal coverage.”

    • suyts says:

      I don’t think one can properly compare US to Canada health-care systems. But, yes, administrative efficiencies certainly can be improved here.

      Our health care has been much discussed and is in the midst of significantly changing. (For the worse by my estimation.) It would have been nice to try less draconian measures first, such allowing cross state competition, (that in and of itself would have decreased administrative burden ) but that wasn’t to be. I know many Repubs and Independents are hoping to overturn the damned thing, but, that’s a bit of a long shot. They’d have to win both the presidency and the Senate, while retaining the House. And then get the legislation passed. Doable, but certainly not something to bet on.

      It’s funny we were told to pass it to see what was in it. It got passed and we still don’t know all of the changes this thing will cause. But, we do know it won’t cover as many as thought, and we know the fee/tax will be imposed on millions more than we thought. And, it has already prevented small business expansion. To figure out what our health care/ insurance system looks like, we’ll have to check back in a few years.

      • Hi Suyts,

        If we compare the US to Switzerland there is one single factor that makes almost all the difference, and by itself would save the American taxpayer 500 billion dollars a year (would basically pay for the entire military budget minus war funding).

        The difference is this the Swiss regulate their health insurance in two ways:
        1.
        “Swiss are required to purchase basic health insurance, which covers a range of treatments detailed in the Federal Act. It is therefore the same throughout the country and avoids double standards in healthcare. Insurers are required to offer this basic insurance to everyone, regardless of age or medical condition. They are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans.”

        The above is exactly what the new American plan is doing, with one crucial difference, the companies are allowed to make a profit on this basic insurance! If Americans who don’t want insurance are forced to pay for it, then the companies shouldn’t make money profits off of it. If they are allowed to they will increase their prices, for simple supply and demand reasons: a large number of people who did not want insurance are legally required to purchase it. This can only drive prices up.

        And:
        2.
        “Regulations require “a 25-year-old and an 80-year-old individual pay a given insurer the same premium for the same type of policy.””

        This is important because it forces the Swiss insurance providers to compete on administration costs alone. In the US system which allows discrimination based on age and medical condition, the insurance companies have little incentive to reduce administration costs. They will instead choose to focus on insuring only the healthy and excluding the unhealthy. They have no incentive to offer reasonable rates to the unhealthy, which they from a financial point of view they would rather see uninsured or dead.

        These two legal and regulatory changes would fix most of the problems with the American health insurance industry.

        • suyts says:

          bij, maybe you should clarify one of your assertions. You said, “If Americans who don’t want insurance are forced to pay for it, then the companies shouldn’t make money profits off of it.”

          Why shouldn’t they? If I’m a company required to perform a service, I would fully expect to make at least some profit from it. Why else would I perform the service? You do understand that there are some fundamental differences between a small landlocked nation and the large diverse nation such as the US, right?

          We should recall that prior to Obama care, health insurance companies had a small margin. I’m not sure where it sits now. As I read and learn about this law, it is apparent that it is an intermediate step. It isn’t sustainable. Insurance companies will ultimately compete with the federal government. The feds have an unlimited money supply and are willing to take losses.

          You also stated, “Regulations require “a 25-year-old and an 80-year-old individual pay a given insurer the same premium for the same type of policy.”

          As a one time 25 year old, that irked me to no end. Insurance is all about leveling costs. I was healthy and required no insurance. Insurance for me and my family shouldn’t have cost very much. But because our insurance companies already cost shared I couldn’t afford it. So, I saved quite a bit of money and me and my wife and 2 children went without insurance for about 10 years. This allowed my family to do crazy things like pay rent and eat. My children and grandchildren will no longer have this option. All this does is creates wards of the state. It’s despicable, intrusive, and contrary to individual responsibility and freedom.

  12. In response to:
    “Wow, a moral justification for inflation.”

    It is by the way also a moral justification for paper money over gold money. With gold money there is no purely legal means (short of physical expropriation) for the government to deal with hoarding.

    If a wealthy group hoards all the money in a gold economy, the government can’t print more gold (they can try to mine more gold, but the wealthy usually own the mines), they can only wage war and criminalize the gold hoarders.

    If they do not there will be terrible deflation, as the shortage of gold in the market, will cause the price of gold up, and enriching the hoarders even further. This is what happened in Japan where 0% interest rates, made it so that the currency was as good as gold and holding it, and doing nothing, not even playing the stock market was profitable, while the Japanese public went hungry.

    • suyts says:

      In a properly managed economy there is no reason to hoard gold. Indeed, if they were to do so, then people would simply invent other forms of capital.

      bij, you show an extraordinary nativity about the nature of people of wealth. Wealthy people in response to insipidly stupid government actions move to save the wealth they have. All of us act in this manner. But, the nature of people of wealth is to invest it and create more wealth. They never want to hold it. You’re painting a charicature. of some Scrooge McDuck or something. That isn’t reality.

      • Gold is not a form of capital (which is used to generate profit), it is a form of money (which is used to store and exchange value). There are very few good substitutes for precious metals. They are easily appraised for value and fungible (all 24k gold is the same, unlike diamonds), they are easily transported, stored and don’t deteriorate (unlike most commodities), So yes people could use silver or copper at massive cost and watch it rust ,or use wheat and watch it go bad, or use oil and use half the area of Vermont to store it…

        Wealthy people if they are rational economic agents should act to maximize their wealth. All other considerations should be secondary. You might suppose altruism, but I see no reason to.

        I made it clear why it would be profitable to hoard.

        Yes usually the market provides much more profitable venues for investment, but they all come with some risk, and so it’s always a choice between investing in some real endeavor with a certain rate of return and risk, and manipulating markets by building trusts and monopolizing supply of a resource or commodity (in this case money).

        • As you say: “given a properly managed economy”

          Then yes if we are given it, the wealthy should always prefer to grow the pie and grow their share, while also growing every one else’s.

          But who insures that the economy is properly managed?

          Again back to fighting over pieces of pie, vs growing the pie:

          The problem is not exactly the same as just fighting over how much of the pie we each get (and your getting a little more pie, implies that I get a little less pie). I mean you can think of it as we are all getting different pieces of pie. There’s nothing terrible that some people get a little or a lot more pie than others, as long as everyone gets a reasonably minimum. The problem is that as I described it’s like if the people who want more than their fair share of pie, destroy most of the pie in the process. They personally get more pie, but a lot of the pie is lost in the process.

        • To get biblical:
          “Matthew 6

          19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth
          corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:”

          Gold neither rusts nor is corrupted by moths. So really poor Jesus must depend solely on the power of thieves and the (awesomeness of Heaven).

          Thieves can break through and steal gold, but the government generally can not.

          In the case of paper money, the government can steal simply by printing more money. Though again you are right this is a gross simplification.

        • suyts says:

          bij, Government can and does generally steal gold. It is precisely because it can be capital and currency that this happens.

          Here, read this ….. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

          Now, realize that was many years before we got out of the depression. Many times in the past governments have confiscated gold. Gold is malleable in many ways.

      • Also remember that:
        “a fool and his money are soon departed”

        And the Wealthy are by no means all “BIll Gates’s” and “Warren Buffets”, and some of them are thugs and pimps (literally).

        I think in most of these systems that seem either less efficient or less socially desirable part of the reason the rich and wealthy want them is that it benefits them specifically.

        For example, expensive university tuition makes it easy for rich kids to get in, because they don’t need scholarships or any financial help from the school, it makes education more exclusive which is good for the rich, though bad for the society. Especially bad because it is good specifically for the incompetent and undeserving rich, and not the prep-school over-achiever rich.

        Again expensive private health insurance benefits big businesses (specifically big businesses that provide corporate benefits), because they can treat workers worse especially in a bad economy and the workers won’t be able to quit, because their kids will lose insurance coverage. It makes the labour market more flexible, that is workers are willing to put up with inconvenient and sometimes socially undesirable compromises.

        This flexibility of the labour market is also a big reason that the business class approve so much of eliminating welfare. I mean welfare below the minimum wage shouldn’t drive many people off the labour market (people like the self respect of working, rather than being a parasite), unless work conditions are so bad that it is preferable to get the lower amount from welfare rather than to suffer the brutal minimum wage job. (I mean there’s always the case of people working under the table and getting welfare too, but that’s a separate problem).

        • suyts says:

          bij, you’ve said it yourself and didn’t understand what was stated.

          “a fool and his money are soon departed”

          But then later you state,
          “I think in most of these systems that seem either less efficient or less socially desirable part of the reason the rich and wealthy want them is that it benefits them specifically.”

          For example, expensive university tuition makes it easy for rich kids to get in, because they don’t need scholarships or any financial help from the school, it makes education more exclusive which is good for the rich, though bad for the society. Especially bad because it is good specifically for the incompetent and undeserving rich, and not the prep-school over-achiever rich.
          ======================================================
          Incompetent and undeserving rich never keep their money. If the children are incompetent then they can’t keep their fortune. This has been demonstrated time and again in the US. But, this only occurs because of markets. Without the possibility to fail, (capitalism) then it does indeed, perpetuate itself.

      • The real Scrooge believed in taxes and didn’t believe in charity. Can the same be said of today’s billionaires?

        • suyts says:

          bij, in times before you, it was more moral to believe in charity before taxes. Taxes create several middlemen on the road to charity.

  13. Hi Suyts,

    I’ll address each issue in turn.

    “bij, maybe you should clarify one of your assertions. You said, “If Americans who don’t want insurance are forced to pay for it, then the companies shouldn’t make money profits off of it.”

    Why shouldn’t they? If I’m a company required to perform a service, I would fully expect to make at least some profit from it. Why else would I perform the service? ”

    Because they make a profit from the business as a whole, as most of the corporate and unionized and public sector employees will all have coverage over the basic minimum, and so they will still make tons of money (exactly as much money as they are making now). Just not money in this particular section of their business.

    • suyts says:

      So you believe the government should be able to compel people to provide a service for which they won’t be compensated. Interesting. That should provide for high quality service.

      • No they shouldn’t compel them to provide it. There is every reason to believe that new non-profits can spring up to provide the basic coverage.

        • For the sad reason that everyone assumes for profit private industry must provide every service.

          The post office being a good counter-example in the public sector, and most universities, which are expensive and but often private but not for profit are other examples.

          NASA is another. You don’t privatize a business when it requires trillions of dollars of capital, and won’t generate any direct profits for 50 years. You wait 50 years…

          Figuring out how to get for profit industry to provide at-cost (or at-loss) services, is a good way to learn how inefficient an economic system can be (and it’s good because it’s sound experimental data). But once we’ve done that a couple of time, we should learn our lesson and move on.

    • DirkH says:

      “Because they make a profit from the business as a whole, as most of the corporate and unionized and public sector employees will all have coverage over the basic minimum, ”

      WHY? The only reason can be that the “basic minimum” standard is abysmal. (Which it is in places like the UK or Canada)

      “and so they will still make tons of money ”

      TONS of money? What’s that in interest rate on capital invested?

      “(exactly as much money as they are making now). ”

      WHY? Why not half as much or twice as much?

      “Just not money in this particular section of their business.”

      • “WHY? The only reason can be that the “basic minimum” standard is abysmal. (Which it is in places like the UK or Canada)”

        What you say is only meaningful if US medicare and medicaid are better than the basic coverage in Canada.

        From what I understand medicare covers seniors in the US, and medicaid provides coverage for the poor.

        In Canada those people get the same basic coverage that everyone else gets.

        In Canada that basic coverage costs the government about $3400 per citizen and covers 70% of all health spending.

        In the US that basic coverage costs the government about $3900 per citizen covers 35% of all health spending.

        Why I say about being meaningful is that the elderly are clearly the ones who need the most care, and the ones most likely to only have the basic coverage. So if medicare is no better than Canadian basic coverage the people who really need the insurance are no better off. Similarly with the poor, who suffer from kinds of violence and disease that the rest don’t.

        • DirkH says:

          ““WHY? The only reason can be that the “basic minimum” standard is abysmal. (Which it is in places like the UK or Canada)”

          What you say is only meaningful if US medicare and medicaid are better than the basic coverage in Canada.

          From what I understand medicare covers seniors in the US, and medicaid provides coverage for the poor.”

          I’m German. We have, similar to Obamacare, a requirement to buy health insurance. But the only punishment for failing to buy health insurance is that the cost of emergency treatments might ruin you. Employees can’t avoid paying for a health insurance; the company automatically keeps the amount and sends it to the insurance every month.

          Our basic coverage is better than in the UK or Canada – no British teeth here, and much smaller waiting times for operations. The system is more expensive than the British or Canadian as well.

  14. “We should recall that prior to Obama care, health insurance companies had a small margin.”

    No, the large ones were making ridiculously high profits:
    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2008/industries/223/index.html

    But like all businesses they would like to make more, and indeed are making more:
    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/industries/223/index.html

    100 billion dollars for a single company is more than 75 billion. It’s 33% more. Ok I don’t think Americans should be forced to buy insurance in order for that to happen.

    • Sorry you were correct margins were low…

      • I have embarrassed myself in my over-enthusiasm. I hope I have not lost your respect.

      • suyts says:

        You’ve gained it. I do the same from time to time. It’s easy to assume things.

        bij, I cover many topics here. The pace is a bit quick but worth while. I think we’re getting to the point of philosophical differences. I’ve no delusions that I would change your perspective in just one post.

        I do appreciate your participation and hope for more.

        James

        • Thank you so much! You all gained my respect first. I always suspected but never truly knew how much more reasonableness and freedom of thought there was in the US, but I am still shocked when I compare this to the situation in Canada. (same goes for freedom of the press, etc.)

        • suyts says:

          Lol, careful, this isn’t a typical blog, and Dirk is German. But, I appreciate the thought!

        • suyts says:

          Over 1/3 of the commenters here are not from the US. We have Cannucks, Brits, Germans, Aussies, Kiwis, and occasionally a couple of friends from South Africa will drop by. Maybe an Italian once in a while. The rest are mostly from the US….. 🙂

      • suyts says:

        bij, I want you to know, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our discussion. You’ve a different perspective which is welcomed. Don’t worry about respect, you’ve already gained it. That said, there are some here who are a bit more aggressive. The tone and tenor can be a bit raucous. There are many here who’ll converse more than just your humble host. I’ll post on education in a bit. LLAP left me a gem.

  15. In response to:
    “As a one time 25 year old, that irked me to no end. Insurance is all about leveling costs. I was healthy and required no insurance. Insurance for me and my family shouldn’t have cost very much. But because our insurance companies already cost shared I couldn’t afford it. So, I saved quite a bit of money and me and my wife and 2 children went without insurance for about 10 years. This allowed my family to do crazy things like pay rent and eat. My children and grandchildren will no longer have this option. All this does is creates wards of the state. It’s despicable, intrusive, and contrary to individual responsibility and freedom.”

    I will give an example of how this affected me. I moved from Montreal, Quebec Canada, to Toronto, Ontario Canada.

    Quebec had no fault car insurance that was provided by a state insurance society. It provided liability insurance, while private insurance companies provide collision. My insurance was $400, plus auto registration which was $200.

    Ontario has fully private liability insurance. Private insurance companies provide collision and liability. My insurance is $1900, for worse coverage, because I am a young male. Meanwhile the value of my car is $1850. I do save on license renewal which is a little over $100.

    Well in Quebec everyone cost shared, but no one in Ontario pays $400. So every one pays more, so that the system can be more fair. If you want to understand why this happens, I will be glad to explain, just ask, it is pretty simple.

    • suyts says:

      I think I understand why. Government mandates but the mandates are enforced by private companies. We have the same difficulties here.

      • In this case something much worse and more frustrating. In the Quebec case, any accident happens and no one ever goes to court, because the no fault insurance pays for liability, no matter whose fault it is (it is either party A or party B and they are insured by the same insurer). In Ontario it very likely goes to court and the court costs need to be paid from the insurance.

        The greatest example is a hit and run involving a bicycle. In Quebec as long as a car was involved the insurance pays for any liability. In Ontario I shudder to think about the legal complications required to get a just compensation for the crippled cyclist and what the costs of it must be.

        Even worse in Ontario insurance companies tend to let’s say not be over-careful in not ceasing payments before they are required to, because they don’t face elections, only market pressure and legal challenges. Again several lawyers work on a contingency basis to right this wrong, but again this costs society and ultimately everyone who pays for insurance (if this is widespread enough, which it is).

  16. Sorry about the long post, but this is my reasoning for why education and health are more profitably run by the public or non-profit organizations, and why almost everything else is better run by private enterprise.

    This is not strictly a private vs public issue, but also a monopoly vs free market situation. In almost every case markets outperform central planning. This is to do with information flows as much as political reasons to do with concentration of power.

    On the other hand I think there is a specific but very important category of services that are much more efficient and cheap when funded by the government (though run by the organizations that provide it, hospitals, universities, school boards).

    The two factors that I think are necessary for this to hold are as follows:
    1. massive public benefit (profit or gain for society)
    and
    2. very difficult for provider to benefit (not profitable as a business model, or no good business model)

    This applies to education and health.

    For example a degree from McGill or MIT or University of Toronto, provides a huge lifetime benefit to the student, but it’s lifelong and often increases the more time passes and it combines with experience (in total it may be several million dollars over a lifetime), but it’s hard to get the money while providing the service, you can rely on student debt, but it’s unclear which students will be the winners and can afford to pay a lot and which students won’t and won’t be able to pay up and will default on their loans, but the government will get this in increased tax revenues from the successful ones and simply write off the duds. Yes if MIT could garnish your salary for as long as you practice engineering (and the rate increasing as you become more successful) it would end up being the same thing, but then it would be almost impossible to do, you have the usual case of someone who attends several schools and how do you track all this across state lines, etc.

    Same with health care. There is a huge social benefit to not having to worry if you have a nephew or uncle or niece or cousin that has cancer and no insurance, or not to have to worry if you lose your job or otherwise lose coverage, basically the peace of mind that you always have coverage. But it is difficult for private companies to profit from that peace of mind. For them the most benefit is had from specifically excluding the sick from getting coverage. So any independently employed (not corporate) worker with cancer or other expensive diseases simply won’t get covered (because they are not part of a group that gets average out) or will get covered at cost, even though it’s not their fault, they just got unlucky (and the corporation that employs you would be better off not hiring you, as to get a better group rate). You may say that is the sick benefiting from the taxes, of others, but A) it could happen to a lot of people and B) in order to get insurance companies to provide reasonable insurance for cancer patients the government has to provide them massive subsidies (I believe this is the problem with Obama’s plan, basically they want for profit companies to provide this as a for profit service, subsidized by the taxpayer, instead of having the taxpayer subsidize the costs directly, the former can hardly be more efficient).

    Similarly thing applies to no fault car insurance. Hard to see how insurance companies can benefit or compete to advantage, when they simply have to pay all victims of injuries of car accidents, no questions asked, no matter who hit who.

    Now again you are right in the case of for profit industries. In that case the investors can get their money back, that is there are sound business models, and you want competition to keep things efficient. Otherwise the government bureaucracy or monopoly will expand to eat all the profits. That is the immediate profit available can fund competition. Without a profitable business model, there is little benefit to competition.

    And again other problems occur in the case of profitable business run by a government bureaucracy. The soviet problems: the factory makes junk nobody needs, and just pockets all the government funds, and shakes them down, because people need some form of razor blade, or shaving cream or something.

    Stated another way, government should socialize risk and costs (funding long term investments), the private sector fights over profits (benefiting from short term gains). Now this can be overdone, but this is a reasonable division, and is one which is used in most countries, including the US. Where long term research and development is funded through the government with grants and military research.

    A system where private sector fights over risks and costs, will not work, because all private parties will avoid the risks and costs, and they will blow up somewhere: cancer patients who can’t afford coverage, students who must cripple themselves financially to pay for professional degrees before they have even started work, avoiding all long term speculative research (the American auto industry years ago when it failed, and they just made minor cosmetic changes, while the Japanese rocked quality control, automation, etc.), etc.

  17. In response to:
    “Yes, it seems in this case Canada’s laws are as screwed up as the US.”

    The important thing to note is that Quebec (one part of Canada) used to be the more expensive one about a generation ago (than Ontario another part of Canada). When it would have cost maybe $1100 in Quebec and $1000 in Ontario.

    In Ontario they decided to allow lawyers to work on a contingency basis in auto accident liability suits. In Quebec they decided to fix the system. The costs for basically everyone were cut in half in Quebec and doubled in Ontario.

    So things can change quickly and dramatically. That is why I have a lot of hope for the American health insurance problem.

  18. In response to:
    “bij, Government can and does generally steal gold. It is precisely because it can be capital and currency that this happens.

    Here, read this ….. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

    Now, realize that was many years before we got out of the depression. Many times in the past governments have confiscated gold. Gold is malleable in many ways.”

    I am aware of that example (though only found out about it within the past two years, during my readings on money), but I would rather the government be able to correct that problem without having to resort to such extreme means. And that is why I advocate paper money, it is more civilized.

    In the words of Woody Guthrie:
    “Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered,
    I’ve seen lots of funny men.
    Some will rob you with a six-gun,
    And some with a fountain pen.”

    I would rather the government resort to fountain pens.

    Again Guthrie continues:
    “And as through your life you travel,
    Yes, as through your life you roam,
    You won’t never see an outlaw
    Drive a family from their home.”

    Referring to the bankers foreclosing on small farms. And again yes it is terrible that small farmers were foreclosed in the US, but in the Soviet Union they were robbed by force.

    Another huge factor in paper money, is that the collapse of the government and economy and society, will cause the collapse of the currency, and much of the wealth of the wealthy. And this way no one can collapse the government and run away with the money.

    Of course on the other hand there is the flip side, which is the collapse of the currency…

    • suyts says:

      bij, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a society built on gold per se. I’m advocating a society built on value. Gold in that instance is simply a proxy, as is printed money. Either way, it all has to represent value. None of it does.

      “Of course on the other hand there is the flip side, which is the collapse of the currency.” ———— Coming to a currency near you soon.

  19. In response to:
    “Incompetent and undeserving rich never keep their money. If the children are incompetent then they can’t keep their fortune. This has been demonstrated time and again in the US. But, this only occurs because of markets. Without the possibility to fail, (capitalism) then it does indeed, perpetuate itself.”

    But I agree with you in not wanting government intervention in markets (in general). I only support government intervention in the limited cases (historically limited, but society-wide), when markets are impeded either through fundamental economic reasons (productivity leveling off to zero), or through manipulation by monopolists (in this case wealth monopolists). Or as I made a separate point where a socially desirable or necessary good or service can’t be provided by private industry, because there is no viable business model. But these are all exceptional cases.

    Yes the stupid wealth almost never keep their wealth, although neither do the most brilliant wealth. But it is the stupid wealth which is most likely to try.

    I mean look at European history or most of the world’s history. Feudal monarchs that had long dynasties are very rare, but almost all post-slavery, but pre-industrial, wars were fought for basically that very reason of holding the crown within the line….

    I believe in the small “s” socialism of Durkheim. Which is that government should mind the economy, not manage it. This was once shocking. We are no longer shocked that a politician should talk about jobs. But that is the logical conclusion if one wants absolutely pure capitalism. That it is none of the government’s business whether there are any jobs, either the economy will take of it, or it won’t, but that is either up to the market in its infinite and mysterious wisdom, or up to God and his infinite and mysterious wisdom…

    I don’t believe in that degree of idealism and for that reason I am a socialist. For pragmatic reasons. Yes I would love it simple anarchism or libertarianism would fix all the problems of society, but alas ’tis not so.

    • Again one can look at Weber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” and how he wonders at how the Americans with little capital went in for Capitalism and the Europeans with vast capital went in for Feudalism, on and on and on.

      But that’s what I am advocating. If you are against the English revolution and the French revolution, and think that the US should have focused on the kinds of freedoms that would have led to another Feudal state, then I don’t know what we can say…

      I mean the declaration of independence is clear:
      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      All men are created equal is a violation of the right to inherit noble title or the right to transmit the burden of slavery to one’s children. I don’t want those rights to exist. In fact I don’t want the right to enslave oneself to exist.

      • suyts says:

        bij, again, this is for a different post. But your error is easy to see here. Created equal doesn’t mean equal outcome. You assume because people may not have an inheritance that they are somehow burdened. You equate liberty with money and these are very different concepts which only get conflated when viewing these things as a socialist/communist.

        I don’t happen to want much. But, I do recognize I need to earn what I want. Heck, I need to earn what I need else I would be a burden on someone else. I’ve the freedom to be as rich as I want. I’m just not that ambitious. I’ve a little more work to do, then I’m done. The end isn’t the riches.

        • I don’t want equal outcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Nor did I advocate them. I think you are reading more into what I wrote than what I intended.

          Sorry, but as a person who is kind of an overachiever, that is pretty scary, that I should be forced to achieve what is the social average today.

          It is not they that are burdened, but their parents, who must see their children struggle. So yes I wrote that wrong, it is not the right to receive the title which is wrong, but the right to bestow it on one’s children. But now I think you are splitting hairs.

          Liberty is not money. But one can not control one’s own destiny when starved of capital, because another has all the wealth, and therefore a larger than fair share of decision making power. That is not compatible with my definition of democracy.

          As Franklin said, the necessary amount of possessions that are necessary for the health, well-being and livelihood of an individual are his, but beyond that it is all society’s call.

          Most people will earn or could earn $5,000,000 present value over the course of their lives. That is reasonable, and I would say anything beyond that is fair game, if democratically willed. Maybe you can argue more, maybe you can argue less. I will be generous and say $1,000,000,000 should be enough to do what one wishes within one’s potential century on earth.

          I will not defend the right to dispose of ten or a hundred times that amount against the benefits of the society. It is sick.

  20. The basic problem with the Soviet union or any other totalitarian state is the concentration of both:
    1, wealth
    and
    2. decision making power
    and as a consequence:
    3. education and informedness

    If we see those problems in our societies, and I’ll argue very hard that those are present, we should fight them. There is no law of nature that says that the United States can not revert to Fascism or worse.

    Bijan

  21. “bij, in times before you, it was more moral to believe in charity before taxes. Taxes create several middlemen on the road to charity.”

    There are several kinds of taxes, but the taxes that correspond to charity are socially progressive taxes. And those taxes are basically organized charity. If you are saying that we should have disorganized charity that only the economically un-rational would pay for (and anyone who doesn’t pay them personally benefits), I disagree.

    Scrooge may have wanted to pay for the poor, he didn’t want to pay any more than his competitors needed to, he didn’t want to go out of business just because he could afford to be more generous than the poor. That is beside the point. He was willing to pay for poor houses, perhaps begrudgingly, but I see nothing wrong in the system, if people care to have it funded at reasonable levels.

    If most people want to see the programs funded, and have enough interest and intellect to see that they are properly run, then the taxes are good and can function. And I agree with Benjamin Franklin that civilized people should accept them and welcome them.

    “Noam Chomsky: In a democracy, April 15th, when you pay your taxes, would be a day of celebration. Here we’ve gotten together as a community, we’ve decided on certain policies and now we’re moving to implement them by our own participation. That’s not the way it’s viewed in the United States. That’s a day of mourning. There’s this alien entity, sort of like a—as if it’s from Mars somewhere, which is stealing our hard-earned money from us. We have to give it up, because we have no choice.

    Well, that reflects the undermining of even a conception of democracy.”

    http://bigthink.com/ideas/16053

    Now maybe Chomsky appeals to a different crowd than Benjamin Franklin, but they are both part of the work as hard as you can, pay your fair share, and we’re all in it together attitude that made America the best country in the world (that and lots of land and resources).

    • I don’t believe that we should be against taxes because the government is corrupt or could become corrupt. You don’t fix a corrupt government by defunding it, you fix it by fixing the actual problems, or overthrowing it.

    • For another interesting and thought provoking piece of literature that considers charity vs industry see Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara (and I suppose a pro-charity argument, though nuanced):
      http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3790/pg3790.txt

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Barbara

    • suyts says:

      This is all for another post. Define freedom. Define democracy. Define morality. Then charity. It isn’t charity to compel me to provide for things I don’t wish provided. If I’m compelled to do too much of that, I’ll lay down like a mule.

      Charity, in whatever form, should never be a yoke.

      • I realize the questions may have been rhetorical, but I do not believe in discussion if one can’t at some level and at some cost define the terms one is using. In fact defining the terms is usually more than half the battle.

        To me the definitions are as follows:
        Freedom or liberty is the right to control your own destiny, that is a say in the decisions that affect your life.

        Democracy is a form of government where all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

        Morality is a social force that stirs emotions and feelings in members of society, and allows them ti both intellectually and emotionally differentiate between the intentions, decisions, and actions they can witness or conceive, those that are good (or right) and those that are bad (or wrong).

        The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.

        So yes now I see that you would say that only voluntary giving is compatible with a conception of liberty and democracy. But it is important to note that there are conflicts between each of those concepts and their definitions.

        So yes I think social problems are solved by social charity, and not individual charity. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I don’t believe in personal charity, only that I don’t think it is enough (because of economics).

        • It is morality that makes me rail against a system of insurance that hurts every member of society except insurance companies and personal injury lawyers.

          I can easily afford the fee, and I would be against it even if it would put me out of business, this is not being parasitical, benefiting from this should mark one as a pariah. Please note someone close to me is involved in the personal injury business, so I do not judge individuals who may be trying to do their best to help people navigate a terrible system that exists, and must be dealt with.

        • suyts says:

          It is morality that makes me rail against a system of insurance that hurts every member of society except insurance companies and personal injury lawyers.
          ========================================================
          They didn’t set up the system. Your democracy did.

    • DirkH says:

      One reason to mourn the day you have to pay your taxes is that you know it funds Noam Chomsky. I understand that Noam Chomsky is pissed about this, but then again, he’s pissed about nearly everything.

      • Hi Dirk,

        What do you most dislike about Noam Chomsky?

        He seems like a very nice and respectful person to me. Just about as nice and respectful as you all have been to me.

        And besides his political views are not what he is funded for. He is funded for his work on linguistics. And there is crappier work that is funded in academia… A lot of it…

        Bijan

      • Also this might not be entirely true, at least not anymore. That is I don’t know how many grants Chomsky applies for these days. If he just gets his salary from MIT, that is probably funded by the $40,000 a year per undergraduate or graduate student tuition.

        But yes I am happy he is funded. I am sure there are one or more professors who you think should be funded and are funded by your tax dollars or do you think they are all crap?

        • DirkH says:

          If American students are happy to pay his bill, then it is their problem. But probably a lot of them won’t be able to pay back their student loan anyway and leave the taxpayer on the hook.

      • Again Dirk if you live in a well-informed part of Europe then yes everything he says probably sounds like a trite truism to you…

        But I think there are three aspects to Chomsky. One is his work in linguistics. Another his comments on wider issues of a more or less factual nature. And third his specific ideas about politics.

        His linguistics is what he is paid for, if it is all crap, then he should face the same fate as any other tenured professor.

        As to his comments of a “more or less” factual nature. I think one reason he is worth considering is his consistency. But a more important reason is that he is well read. I mean it sounds silly, but that’s not the nature of intellectual life here. People are not encouraged to read outside their narrow area of activity, and even there it is not universal. And of course this gives him a great ability to respond to any question no matter how obscure.

        The third aspect are his specific views on politics and especially the ultimate solution he gives to the problems of the world. I personally think that they are often rather naive or too optimistically utopian, but again they are not directly related to his more factual statements.

        So in summary, Chomsky is well read, consistent and logical, and so he is a good source for analysis of world events, that you might think are obvious, because you live in a well-educated or well-informed part of the world. His work on linguistics affects mainly linguists and colleagues. His political views he has the right to express, and you have the right to ignore, as any other free person in a free country.

        • DirkH says:

          Most of what he says sounds like typical post-normal gibberish to me, except for when he goes on one of his truely despicable political rants.

        • Hi again Dirk,

          “Most of what he says sounds like typical post-normal gibberish to me, except for when he goes on one of his truely despicable political rants.”

          He has a talk about the basic subject under discussion, which is the source of some/many of my ideas, which I hope don’t sound like post-normal gibberish:
          “About what is going on in the US recently. Applies today as well.

          You can listen to the talk (it’s about an hour) or read the transcript (which omits the conclusion which is the political views, those who work in the factories should own them). I first got it in CD form when visiting MIT in the 90s. I don’t agree with all of it of course but it’s still pretty interesting.

          Delivered at Harvard University, April 13, 1996

          http://www.chomsky.info/talks/19960413.htm

          Free Market Fantasies: Capitalism in the Real World
          Noam Chomsky

          Audio on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgFlJjnULh0

  22. “It is morality that makes me rail against a system of insurance that hurts every member of society except insurance companies and personal injury lawyers.
    ========================================================
    They didn’t set up the system. Your democracy did.”

    It was a failure of democracy, it was a failure of morality.

    Anyone who hears of such a situation, either:
    a) doesn’t understand it (they don’t have the background knowledge to make sense of it)
    or
    b) doesn’t care (other bigger problems out there, they personally benefit)
    or
    c) is outraged

    Now when the problem is one where for:
    b) most people do care (most people in the US do care about fixing health care)

    c) most people are outraged

    And so they gave Obama a mandate to fix it, and he had a congress with a democratic majority.

    And he didn’t even try to fix it. Then yes I think that is a failure of democracy.

    back to a) the people weren’t informed about the real issues (nobody talked about them, they just manipulated their emotions)

    Now the question is why did it fail? This time I will let you fire the first shot 🙂

    • Again:
      “Your democracy did.”

      I complained above, about the lack of critical thinking in Canada. Perhaps I didn’t say it, but one of the myriad reasons it infuriates me is that it undermines democracy. Perhaps a problem in many places. Yet it need not absolutely be so. As I hope our discussion shows.

    • suyts says:

      It’s late for me, and I’ve much beer in me. So, I’ll leave you with this. ….. What is a right? My US constitution explicitly states what I have coming to me. (True, its been screwed up a bit) But, I know what is conferred to me by God and man. What do you believe should be your inheritance?

      • The rights I care about, and I think are inalienable, all basically resume to the fact that everyone should have his or her “40 acres and a mule”

        updated for the contemporary world

        That is decent education, both primary and secondary as well as the option of pursuing tertiary education (College/University).

        That is access to decent work that is meaningful.

        And that is basic economic needs that allow one to fulfill oneself. Don’t mistake the basic, I don’t mean the bare necessities. I mean riches. We should all be rich, every last one of us.

        And all this with reasonable security and peace of mind.

        And while affirming both liberty and democracy as defined above:
        “Freedom or liberty is the right to control your own destiny, that is a say in the decisions that affect your life.

        Democracy is a form of government where all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.”

        None of this I think is impossible to achieve within our lifetimes if we all felt strongly about it, and committed to it.

        But no the inalienable right to wealth I do despise. Not the wealth but the idea that wealth beyond the wildest dreams of avarice should be inalienable even to prevent public catastrophe (let alone for public good).

        Some scripture to help one enjoy one’s work and one’s life:
        “Ecclesiastes 2

        12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can
        the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.
        13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth
        darkness.
        14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and
        I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.
        15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even
        to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is
        vanity.
        16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever;
        seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how
        dieth the wise man? as the fool.
        17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is
        grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
        18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I
        should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
        19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he
        have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed
        myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.
        20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour
        which I took under the sun.
        21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in
        equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his
        portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.
        22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart,
        wherein he hath laboured under the sun?
        23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh
        not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
        24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and
        that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it
        was from the hand of God.
        25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?
        26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge,
        and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he
        may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of
        spirit.

        And here are some good resources for crossing “the other”/enemy sharing barrier:

        First the despicable sentiment rarely mentioned but in another part of
        the Declaration of Independence decrying the British monarch because he:
        “has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

        vs:
        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Tecumseh

        “Brothers — My people wish for peace; the red men all wish for peace; but where the white people are, there is no peace for them, except it be on the bosom of our mother. Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear to us? I know you will cry with me, Never! NEVER!.”

        • suyts says:

          Ecclesiastes is an excellent book. I love to quote it often. However, like most books of the Bible, It must be read with proper context.

          And, so should the Declaration.

  23. Again in Canada we might have a charity problem though I doubt it, because people are more individualistic here (contrary to popular beliefs about our “socialism”, we are cold northern survivalists), vs the US which is a very religious country where people do care about others. So the idea that “my” money is going to “others”, doesn’t bother people in and of itself (probably less than it does in Canada).

    But racism is used to work against this caring. You’re not paying for “middle class” people, you’re paying for criminals (subtext is that they are black), and the unskilled minimum wage and under the table workers (subtext is that they are hispanic). (In Canada the labels are different as are the realities, but same general idea)

    My point is that the perception is created that social benefits benefit “others”, that are not your neighbor, your brother, your father, your mother, your children, the nice boy down the street.

    It’s made to seem like the benefit undesirable classes that are not related to you.

    So there are two things at play. One is unfortunate one is criminal.

    The unfortunate one is that the “who are not related” part of charity is rammed home, and eventually people care about me and mine more than “the other”.

    It is all well to say that morality consists essentially of:
    “Mark 12

    30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
    soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first
    commandment.
    31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
    thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    But in the real world loving your neighbor is difficult where a couple of centuries of segregation have made sure that “the other” is not your neighbor, but your enemy.

    And verily we are also enjoyed thusly:
    “Matthew 5

    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
    to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
    persecute you;”

    And yet we all fall short:
    “Matthew 11

    11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not
    risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the
    kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
    12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven
    suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

    But of course:
    “Matthew 5

    3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they
    shall be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
    10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs
    is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall
    say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
    12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so
    persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

    The criminal one, is much less poetic. We are convinced to vote against our own interest to benefit not the poor (who deserve better), not the rich (who in an ideal world deserve their riches), not even the wealthy (who in a healthy society are willing to part with the wealth-riches surplus), but the greedy and the just plain evil.

    • suyts says:

      bij, you’ve read too much of the Huffington Post. No one conjures Blacks when people say “criminals” except the left. No one conjures Hispanics when people say the “working poor” except the left. This is a sore spot for me. It insults me and mine and prohibits thoughtful discussion of crime and poverty.

      • Black welfare?
        White welfare?

        Which one are people hating on? And if they’re not conjuring up blacks then people are ignorant because there are more blacks in prison. The question is why? And why doesn’t anyone care?

        I think the answer to why is that since they are excluded from the political system, decisions are made and laws are past that show no concern for them. That is the charitable answer.

        Illegal Mexican migrants?
        Illegal European migrants?
        Which one are people hating on?

        Who is supposed to be “taking away *OUR* country”?

        When Romney says that 47% of the population he can’t appeal to, because they don’t pay taxes. We might know that he might mean the self employed, or truck drivers, or the small businesses or something that are going to be crushed. But others might connect 47% with the similar percentage of non-white and Hispanic whites in the United States.

        • suyts says:

          No one is “hating on” anyone. That’s a silly argument. We can’t discuss welfare because the left thinks we’re talking about blacks? Do we have an illegal immigration problem from Europe? I guarantee you if we had 13 million illegal Germans in this country we would be having a discussion about that, but we don’t have 13 million illegal immigrants from Europe. Its a stupid equivocation.

          Who is excluded from the political system? Illegals? They are suppose to be excluded. No one else in this country is excluded from the political system.

          You don’t think it’s proper for Mitt to point out that there’s a large portion of our population that he won’t appeal to? That’s simply a rant against reality. Personally, it appeals to me that Mitt would address reality.

          The only other thing I can say is just continue to read this blog if you want to come to understand the conservative perspective on these issues. You’re just parroting leftist talking points which have no bearing on reality.

  24. Hi Dirk,

    In response to your:
    “I’m German. We have, similar to Obamacare, a requirement to buy health insurance. But the only punishment for failing to buy health insurance is that the cost of emergency treatments might ruin you. Employees can’t avoid paying for a health insurance; the company automatically keeps the amount and sends it to the insurance every month.

    But I was citing, not Canada or the UK, but the Swiss system as the justification for that. And I was saying that they basically have Obamacare plus a ban on profits on the Obama portion. And that made all the difference.

    Germany you can’t compare to the US because they have a public option! Which Obama didn’t even try to push for 😦 You are in no way forced to buy insurance from for profit private companies, right? Unless I misunderstand your system… I mean I think you can opt out of the public system to buy private insurance but that is different, from being forced to buy it. I was talking about forcing people to…

    Again quoting wikipedia:
    “Swiss are required to purchase basic health insurance, which covers a range of treatments detailed in the Federal Act. It is therefore the same throughout the country and avoids double standards in healthcare. Insurers are required to offer this basic insurance to everyone, regardless of age or medical condition. They are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans.”

    And to the second part:
    “Our basic coverage is better than in the UK or Canada – no British teeth here, and much smaller waiting times for operations. The system is more expensive than the British or Canadian as well.”

    I’m Canadian. We have what you deride. We have public health insurance that is paid for by taxes. In the Canadian system you can’t pay for any of the basic services covered by the public health insurance that is paid for by taxes. So there are wait times, and you can’t pay to jump the queue, except when you can because let’s face it these are laws of man, not laws of nature. So you can pay to get a colonoscopy in a private clinic, instead of waiting for your turn in a hospital, etc, etc., etc. Anyways the public insurance covers 70% of all expenses. It does not cover dentist costs at all. Those are all private employer insurance or out of pocket. We have no British teeth, because society is not poor, and I suppose there must be enough cheap clinics to handle emergencies. I think the British just don’t like teeth. And the image of toothless hicks… well… sigh… But no one has ever been ruined.

    In any case here is how these systems stack up:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health_systems

    Switzerland 2nd most expensive per capita (11.5% of economy),
    Germany 3rd most expensive per capita (11.6% GDP),
    Canada 10th most expensive per capita (11.3% GDP).

    US 1st most expensive per capita (17.9% GDP)
    United Kingdom 26th most expensive per capita (9.6% GDP)

    They spend less than Spain and Ireland per capita…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health_systems

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS

  25. Hi Dirk,

    “His defense of the Khmer Rouge.”

    I have heard this many times. Can you cite the text? I’d really like to read it. I’m being serious it is not a challenge. I would really really like to read it.

    • Also a look at how Chomsky’s views were purposefully distorted in this case: http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.ca/2010/07/chomskys-views-on-khmer-rouge-distorted.html

      The key sentence is (where we is Chomsky and Herman):
      “We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments;”

      The original text:
      “…there are many other sources on recent events in Cambodia that have not been brought to the attention of the American reading public. Space limitations preclude a comprehensive review, but such journals as the Far Eastern Economic Review, the London Economist, the Melbourne Journal of Politics, and others elsewhere, have provided analyses by highly qualified specialists who have studied the full range of evidence available, and who concluded that executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing. **These reports also emphasize both the extraordinary brutality on both sides during the civil war (provoked by the American attack) and repeated discoveries that massacre reports were false. They also testify to the extreme unreliability of refugee reports, and the need to treat them with great caution, a fact that we and others have discussed elsewhere (cf. Chomsky: At War with Asia, on the problems of interpreting reports of refugees from American bombing in Laos). We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments; rather, we again want to emphasize some crucial points. What filters through to the American public is a seriously distorted version of the evidence available, emphasizing alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities and downplaying or ignoring the crucial U.S. role, direct and indirect, in the torment that Cambodia has suffered.**”

      • DirkH says:

        Well okay, I’m not sure whether this is all he said. But any way, look at it.
        “If a serious study of the impact of Western imperialism on Cambodian peasant life is someday undertaken, it may well be discovered that the violence lurking behind the Khmer smile, on which Meyer and others have commented, is not a reflection of obscure traits in peasant culture and psychology, but is the direct and understandable response to the violence of the imperial system”

        So he finds justification for elimination of an entire strata of society.

        Do I need to argue further.

        • I think you might need to go further.

          Specifically part of what you quoted:
          “the violence lurking behind the Khmer smile, on which Meyer and others have commented, is not a reflection of obscure traits in peasant culture and psychology”

          Basically those Western commentators were saying that the violence or the evil smile was because of some obscure traits in peasant culture and psychology.

          Chomsky is saying it might be a reflection of Western violence. Right? I think…

    • DirkH says:

      Lots of hits on the Internet, a lot of he said she said, but I think I have the link to his original article at home, I’ll get back to you when I have it.

      • Thanks!!!

        One bad thing is that Chomsky is very reluctant to admit a mistake in public. I don’t know if he is wrong in this case, but I could see how it could be used against him even if he is right.

        For example one can take the other famous case against him, that of his defense of the free speech rights of a French holocaust denier. I think there is nothing of substance in the criticism of Chomsky in that case. But it sounds so bad, that it is used to tarnish his reputation.

        For example I (myself) wrote an essay in defense of democracy (the text has nothing to with Chomsky) which included the following text, which could be used against me by omitting any part of any of several of the sentences:

        http://www.crasseux.com/blog/?p=42

        Defending Democracy
        Posted on September 30, 2012

        “In his article “Why Democracy is Wrong”: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/democracy.html

        The author writes:

        “It is for the supporters of democracy to demonstrate explicitly, what they claim implicitly – that a democracy is the only structure which generates consent of the governed.”

        This is an unfair demand. Every structure that is not overthrown generates consent of the governed. The most painful and disgusting part of the second world war, is that even within concentration camps, there was a form of consent of the governed, %99.99 of whom were about to be murdered. When you are physically absolutely prevented from any kind of resistance, and any resistance in a moment of opportunity is punished by unimaginable cruelty, then consent is formed, but the costs are infinite (total death). That is even the ghettos were dying in complete genocide, albeit a bit slower, and this was just as much by conscious design. If the war had gone on, the Warsaw ghetto would have been empty due to starvation and disease (though the Nazis did not hesitate to murder anyone at all, whenever they felt like it).

        The question is not whether the structure can generate consent of the governed! The question is at what cost?”

        • DirkH says:

          Now, you wrote post-normal gibberish. Consent means agreement. No consent was formed in the KZs or the Warsaw ghetto.

          Careful with the moral relativism. Words mean things.

      • DirkH says:

        bijansoleymani says:
        October 2, 2012 at 3:11 am
        “One bad thing is that Chomsky is very reluctant to admit a mistake in public. ”

        Indeed.

  26. “Now, you wrote post-normal gibberish. Consent means agreement. No consent was formed in the KZs or the Warsaw ghetto.”

    I said: there was a form of consent

    But I was probably wrong, there was no general consent only violence and murder. Thanks for the feedback.

    As to no consent being formed, there were the Capos.

    Interestingly enough Chomsky didn’t fall for this mistake in this essay about Force and Opinion:
    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199107–.htm

    Where he almost makes my mistake and says there’s a harsher truth:
    “Hume’s observation raises a number of questions. One dubious feature is the idea that force is on the side of the governed. Reality is more grim. A good part of human history supports the contrary thesis put forth a century earlier by advocates of the rule of Parliament against the King, but more significantly against the people: that “the power of the Sword is, and ever hath been, the Foundation of all Titles to Government.” Force also has more subtle modes, including an array of costs well short of overt violence that attach to refusal to submit. Nevertheless, Hume’s paradox is real. Even despotic rule is commonly founded on a measure of consent, and the abdication of rights is the hallmark of more free societies — a fact that calls for analysis.

    The Harsher Side

    The harsher side of the truth is highlighted by the fate of the popular movements of the past decade. In the Soviet satellites, the governors had ruled by force, not opinion. When force was withdrawn, the fragile tyrannies quickly collapsed, for the most part with little bloodshed. These remarkable successes have elicited some euphoria about the power of “love, tolerance, nonviolence, the human spirit, and forgiveness,” Vaclav Havel’s explanation for the failure of the police and military to crush the Czech uprising. The thought is comforting, but illusory, as even the most cursory look at history reveals. The crucial factor is not some novel form of love and nonviolence; no new ground was broken here. Rather, it was the withdrawal of Soviet force, and the collapse of the structures of coercion based upon it. Those who believe otherwise may turn for guidance to the ghost of Archbishop Romero and countless others who have tried to confront unyielding terror with the human spirit.”

    “Careful with the moral relativism. Words mean things.”

    I did not mean consent as legal or moral consent. And so yes I used the wrong word. I should have said submission maybe?

    Is there moral relativism in my mistake though? Or just poor vocabulary…. I never said anything that could in any way be interpreted to imply that anything moral was going on. Do you mean that I was applying one set of moral standards in a situation where they did not apply? I meant that there was so much violence used by the Nazis that dissent was practically impossible. Of course it is never completely impossible. Maybe I under-estimated how much/little dissent there was.

    But you are right probably a large percentage of prisoners chose dissent, at least holding their head up or returning a stare from a Nazi and were tortured and murdered as a result…

    “Consent refers to the provision of approval or agreement, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.”

    And given the choices between certain death on the one hand, and the combination of torture and violent rape and brutal murder and the humiliation of it on the other hand. There is no choice to make. All of us would choose the first option, or at least I would, especially if they were going to do that to women and children while I watched. There would be absolutely no resistance. And there was none (or practically none), because the means of resistance were brutally suppressed. Once that is done, there is nothing to be done but consent to it, or die a death much worse than death.

    Now between certain murder and doing manual labor while being starved to death, I would still choose the starving over the murder…

    If you want to read about the account of an actual survivor I suggest Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

    Yes there was a daily struggle:
    “It is easy for the outsider to get the wrong conception
    of camp life, a conception mingled with sentiment
    and pity. Little does he know of the hard fight for
    existence which raged among the prisoners. This was
    an unrelenting struggle for daily bread and for life
    itself, for one’s own sake or for that of a good friend.”

    • I see that I was totally wrong in what I wrote. I see that sometimes there is rule by opinion where consent means something, but then again a lot of times there is rule by force, where the is no option to resist or defy orders. I didn’t in any way doubt that a concentration camp is ruled by force alone, and not by opinion. I just used the word consent, when it in no way applied. I am sorry. I mean maybe one can call choosing quick and painful over slow and painful, a choice. But that’s a long way from consent…

    • Also I don’t know whether it’s post-modern or post-normal or whatever. I think it’s just gibberish. I’ve definitely read a lot of gibberish from some writer from a century or two ago, that was torn to pieces by some great thinker of the same period. And so I can believe that I just wrote some gibberish. I hope that I’ve written some non-gibberish as well…

      What I always liked about Durkheim was the extreme care he took in defining the terms he would use. That was my mistake here. I didn’t define democracy (but that one wasn’t the problem) and I didn’t define “consent”, and/or “consent of the governed”.

      • DirkH says:

        Sorry if I was being too polemic. But I am really short-fused when it comes to certain, what I perceive as relativisms. No, it was not real gibberish – that term should be reserved for the longer ramblings of Chomsky, Adorno or Jerome Ravetz, or Baudrillard or other French post-normalists. (Now I have probably insulted half of your library. Sorry for that.)

        Found the link re Chomsky & Khmer Rouge.

        http://jim.com/chomsdis.htm

        • DirkH says:

          A mistake – French post-modernists, not normalists. I’ve read too much Ravetz (he had several guest posts on WUWT a while back)

        • Chomsky despises French post-modernists. Basically he considered himself a structuralist philosopher for a while. But gave it up, and figured out how useless fancy words with no meaning are a while ago. All the raging anti-Chomsky stories are from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Almost everything he has done since the 90s is solid and understandable and in plain English.

          I mean one may still not agree with the liberal or libertarian views, but that is another question.

        • I don’t read any of those fellows. The furthest I’ll go in that direction is Foucault. And only because he sometimes has something factual or theoretical of value to say.

          If you want to see the current limits of intellectual onanism then consider Slavoj Zizek, he is really fully of crap. And I believe his salary is paid by the Swiss taxpayers.

        • Here’s a particularly honest Chomsky essay. At least honest sounding:
          http://www.chomsky.info/talks/20100408.htm

        • DirkH says:

          But it’s ridiculous drivel.

          About Joe Stack.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Stack

  27. Dear Suyts,

    I despise the left much more than the right. As you say the left are hypocrites, the right are much more honest. I am trying to argue my own views. I am willing to listen. I can’t present my views without explaining them, that takes a lot of words. That is life… I hope to learn about your views. I hope we can argue them. I mostly seek consensus and understanding.

    “Do we have an illegal immigration problem from Europe?”

    That is not quite the right question. The problem is did we have such large immigration from Europe and why wasn’t it a problem then?

    Most “white” people in the United States today are descended from recent European immigrants. Not British. Certainly not English. That is a fact. And it happened in the past when the Irish were treated like dogs. And the Jews were called kikes. And etc. etc.

    Why were laws passed to exclude the Asians from the very beginning? Why were laws maintained to exclude black immigration until the 60s or 70s?

    What are the effects of this recent racism on the society?

    I have been reading stuff that mentions this and listened to people talk about this in passing for maybe 15 years, without actually thinking it is true, because it just sounds so stupid.

    But yes it is real, even more visible in the past.

    Ted Kennedy was attacked by angry people, when he tried to demonstrate in favor of desegregating schools in Boston in the 1970s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_busing_crisis

    “The Boston busing crisis (1974–1988) was a series of protests and riots
    that occurred in Boston, Massachusetts in response to the passing of the
    1965 Racial Imbalance Act, which ordered public schools in the state to
    desegregate. W. Arthur Garrity Jr. of the United States District Court for
    the District of Massachusetts laid out a plan for compulsory busing of
    students from predominantly white areas of the city to schools with
    predominantly black student populations. The legislation provoked outrage
    from white Bostonians and led to widespread protests and violent public
    disturbances. The conflict lasted for over a decade and contributed to a
    demographic shift in Boston public schools, with dramatically fewer
    students enrolling in public schools and more white families sending their
    children to private schools instead.”

    Also I think is a good example of the unreasonable side of an argument getting an unfair advantage. I read about racism in the United States, but didn’t really take it at all seriously enough, because I couldn’t believe it was that bad.

    • suyts says:

      bij, you are not understanding what happened and you are falsely equating that with racism. It is nothing of the sort.

      Briefly. Forced integration via busing is a typical leftist solution to a problem regarding equality. It was found across this country that many schools, particularly poor inner-city schools performed poorly. These schools were rife with crime and violence. Racism and hate were prevalent at these schools. Meanwhile, in the suburbs, in mostly Caucasian schools, we saw better performing schools with less crime and violence.

      A person who views this problem would rationally resolve to clean up the poor schools and fix the problem. But, that wasn’t our solution. Our solution was to bus children miles away from their home and force them to endure the crime and violence of the poor schools. This satisfied the left because it ensured, in part, equal misery. Any responsible parent would oppose doing that to their children.

      • Suyts, I didn’t give the example as a good solution. I agree it is really crappy to make hard working working class people pay for it by busing their kids to decrepit schools.

        But the reaction wasn’t shock at the poor quality of the black schools. No one cared if the black kids kept going there.

        And there was discrimination in housing, so that there was de facto segregation. I can explain why housing segregation leads to school segregation if you want…

        Bijan

        • suyts says:

          Yes, that discriminatory practice of not selling to people who couldn’t afford to buy it. Did you notice what happened once we fixed that problem?

  28. Dear Suyts,

    “bij, you’ve read too much of the Huffington Post. No one conjures Blacks when people say “criminals” except the left.”

    I generally hate the Huffington post. But I like the comments from the readers, though they are nowhere as good as the dialogue here.

    However I have a good one 🙂

    As to targeting the poor and or blacks:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/28/crack-powder-sentencing-d_n_662526.html

    “Congress addressed a historic wrong on Wednesday afternoon, replacing it
    instead with a slightly lesser wrong, when the House voted to reduce the
    disparity in the sentencing of people caught with crack cocaine versus
    powder cocaine.

    To be charged with a felony, crack users needed to possess only 5 grams of
    the drug. To be hit with the same charge, powder cocaine users needed to
    be caught with 500 grams. This 100-to-1 disparity has frequently been
    cited by drug war opponents as exhibit A to buttress their claim that drug
    laws are racist.”

    Hurting poor drug users smoking crack, vs rich kids sniffing powder.

    Now you can say it was a coincidence and no one thought it, but…

    But this law is absolutely stupid. Absolutely stupid.

    Powder is the uncut form you transport cocaine in. It is the form you inject and which causes the most overdose related deaths. This means that if you split a 1 kg brick into 3 pieces, then anyone who carried a third of a brick wasn’t guilty of a felony. But someone with a day’s supply of crack was guilty of a felony.

    So you know exactly who you’re targeting.

    Of course the justification is to target those who sell specifically to the poor, but it doesn’t explain targeting such a low amount on the one hand and the leniency for the other case.

  29. Hi Dirk,

    “But it’s ridiculous drivel.

    About Joe Stack.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Stack

    Can you post a link to the manifesto. Chomsky gives it as an example of growing irrational/rational reaction to the current system that is self-destructive and ill informed. He thinks that there are parallels to the growing trends of desperation and irrational reaction that lead to the rise of Nazi Germany, which he witnessed from the safety of America in his childhood.

    Again from that wikipedia page:
    “In the suicide note, he begins by expressing displeasure with the government, the bailout of financial institutions, politicians, the conglomerate companies of General Motors, Enron and Arthur Andersen, unions, drug and health care insurance companies, and the Catholic Church.[31] He then describes his life as an engineer; including his meeting with a poor widow who never got the pension benefits she was promised, the effect of the Section 1706 of Tax Reform Act of 1986 on independent contractor engineers, the September 11 attacks airline bailouts that only benefited the airlines but not the suffering engineers and how a CPA he hired seemed to side with the government to take extra tax money from him. His suicide note included criticism of the Federal Aviation Administration, the George W. Bush administration, and a call for violent revolt.”

    Do you not see in that at least an inkling of fascist tendencies and revolt at the rotten democratic forms that are not democratic at all, or appear that way to an ordinary citizen.

    • DirkH says:

      See, Chomsky could just as well hold a lecture about the Unabomber manifesto. Who doesn’t love nature, after all. Chomsky’s got a 100% success rate in making an ass clown out of himself.

      Joe Stack was a mentally disturbed individual. The guy owned a plane and was able to pay for the fuel so he wasn’t exactly living in a hut, making bombs from pieces of string like the Unabomber did.

      So Stack was smart enough to see collusion between government and some banks or industries? Well, Genius, good riddance. Honoring a suicidal maniac killer in a lecture is right up Chomsky’s street.

      Well, thanks for the link, goes into my archive under “Chomsky”.

      • Chomsky is decrying the fact that Joe Stack was too stupid or felt too impotent to do anything productive about it. And decided to blow himself up.

        A guy who owned a plane, didn’t think he could affect the political system by selling it all and dedicating his entire life to political change in the freest country on earth.

        Sounds like perfect recruiting grounds for a new group of brownshirts. Now maybe you think Joe Stack was a huge exception, but a lot of people share the same views and feel as powerless, and some of them do engage in destructive behavior.

        Chomsky is advocating that we should help paint a clear picture of the world so that people relatively well off and hating the system, will engage in positive democratic steps rather than self-destruction…

        Anyways Chomsky does say in his conclusion that:
        “As I mentioned, I am just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany’s descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, to borrow the words of the distinguished scholar of German history Fritz Stern. He tells us that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews “a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason.”

        The world is too complex for history to repeat, but there are nevertheless lessons to keep in mind. There is no shortage of tasks for those who choose the vocation of critical intellectuals, whatever their station in life. They can seek to sweep away the mists of carefully contrived illusion and reveal the stark reality. They can become directly engaged in popular struggles, helping to organize the countless Joe Stacks who are destroying themselves, and maybe the world, and to join them in leading the way the way to a better future.”

      • DirkH says:

        Stack was mentally ill. Chomsky and you say “it’s the system”. Well I have a surprise for you. People kill themselves in Germany. They’re mentally ill.

        It’s got more to do with your brain chemistry than with the effing system.

        Chomsky is an idiot.

        • My point is simply that things are dramatically broken in some areas. To me unbelievably so.

          I mean if you go to most countries and tell people, hey you know how to fix the economy? Get rid of the police!

          I mean in Finland, people would laugh so hard they’d piss themselves.

          In the US 10% of people think that this is a good idea and want to vote for Ron Paul because of it.

          Of course racism is really bad in Europe now, etc., but it affects things differently.

        • suyts says:

          Bij, do you think you’re oversimplifying Paul’s position? He’s a libertarian. If you have less laws to enforce, you would necessarily have less need for police.

  30. Hi Suyts,

    “Bij, do you think you’re oversimplifying Paul’s position? He’s a libertarian. If you have less laws to enforce, you would necessarily have less need for police.”

    As to Ron Paul here are some racist/homophobic remarks from newsletters of
    his (maybe this is a smear campaign, I am willing to look at evidence):

    “Beginning in 1978, for more than two decades Paul and his associates
    published a number of political and investment-oriented newsletters
    bearing his name (Dr. Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival
    Report, the Ron Paul Investment Letter, and the Ron Paul Political
    Report).[164] By 1993, a business through which Paul was publishing the
    newsletters was earning in excess of $900,000 per year.[164]
    A number of the newsletters, particularly in the period between 1988 and
    1994 when Paul was no longer in Congress, contained material that later
    proved highly controversial, dwelling on conspiracy theories, praising
    anti-government militia movements, and warning of coming race
    wars.[164][165] During Paul’s 1996 congressional election campaign, and
    his 2008 and 2012 presidential primary campaigns, critics charged that
    some of the passages reflected racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic
    bigotry.[166][167][168][169][170][171][172]
    The newsletters included statements such as:
    “… I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in
    [Washington, DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”[167]
    “Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist
    philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and
    time again as a congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved
    it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day!”[164][173]
    “An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth [to
    defend yourself against armed robbery], you should leave the scene
    immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible…. I
    frankly don’t know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town
    of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to
    use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”[164][174]
    “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were
    far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.
    They could also not be as promiscuous. Is it any coincidence that the AIDS
    epidemic developed after they came ‘out of the closet,’ and started
    hyper-promiscuous sodomy? I don’t believe so, medically or
    morally.”[175][176]
    “[Magic] Johnson may be a sports star, but he is dying [of AIDS] because
    he violated moral laws.”[165][177]
    “[T]he criminal ‘Justice’ Department wants to force dentists to treat
    these Darth Vader types [people with AIDS] under the vicious Americans
    With Disabilities Act;” and “[W]e all have the right to discriminate,
    which is what freedom of association is all about, especially against
    killers [AIDS patients].”[165][178]
    Other passages referred to former Secretary of Health & Human Services
    Donna Shalala as a “short lesbian” and Martin Luther King, Jr. as a
    pedophile and “lying socialist satyr” – while offering praise for former
    Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke and other controversial
    figures.[164][165][175]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul

    • suyts says:

      Yes, that’s been hashed and rehashed. There were a couple of discussions about this here on this blog.

      Knowing Dr. Paul’s stated views, does this pass the smell test? Did people print this using Paul’s name? Probably. Did Paul endorse these views? No, probably not. Much of it runs contrary to his stated political views. Do you honestly think that a physician would say, ““[Magic] Johnson may be a sports star, but he is dying [of AIDS] because
      he violated moral laws.”? Further, listening to Ron Paul, we know he isn’t a moral conservative.

    • DirkH says:

      Ron Paul repeatedly stated that in the 80ies he had that newsletter published under his name but maintains he didn’t write all of it; and he maintains that once he discovered the content in question stopped publishing it.

      I don’t know if he’s honest. But that’s what he consistently says.

  31. “Yes, that discriminatory practice of not selling to people who couldn’t afford to buy it. Did you notice what happened once we fixed that problem?”

    No it was conscious refusal to sell to Jews and blacks. In Canada it was legal to restrict the sale of property to Jews in order to make sure property values would not fall. You could even have it permanently associated with the deed so it would exist in perpetuity. This was overturned less than a century ago. This is Canada. Quotas against Jews existed at the University I went to until the 60s. The United States and the case of blacks is probably worse.

    Bijan

    • I am a member of a Fraternity (one of the top 10 largest ones) that would not initiate anyone other than a “bona fide white male college student” until 1971:
      “The Sixties
      It is an extreme understatement to say Berkeley changed during the sixties. Entering the decade, fraternities and sororities were accepted as part of the norm. By the end of it, several houses were either suspended or decommissioned. In the early 60’s, the Alpha Beta chapter was much like it was during the 1920’s – filled with an eclectic group of leaders. Among the alumni from that era are State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and former NFL star Ed White. This was a time when the road trip to Tijuana was tremendously popular. Parties and meals became much less formal and much more jovial occasions.

      By the late sixties, the race issue began to divide the fraternity. Several chapters wanted to see the “white clause” and any alumni review of candidates eliminated. Around the nation, several Sigma Chi chapters tried to initiate African American, Hispanic, or Asian members, only to be turned down sternly by the fraternity. Also, many universities were trying to dictate membership policies to the fraternities.

      In late 1969, the Grand Consul Floyd Baker made a visit to the chapter. He brought his wife and planned to have dinner. The brothers, tired of the way the fraternity was dragging its feet on the issue, directly confronted Baker. They were particularly upset at the revoking of the Stanford chapter’s charter for defying the fraternity membership policy. Infuriated by the confrontation, Baker went back to his hotel room, called members of the executive committee, and suspended the charter. For nearly two years Alpha Beta operated as a local fraternity. Finally, in 1971, the fraternity ended all alumni review and racial barriers, and the Alpha Beta charter was reinstated.”

      http://www.calsigmachi.com/discography.html

      (Though I joined another Chapter)

    • suyts says:

      Well, I can’t speak to the discriminatory practices of Canada. And, I’m not stating this country hasn’t had its share of racial issues. But, in the particular case of housing practices, our housing bubble bursting can be directly traced to our “fixing” of that problem.

      • DirkH says:

        A bit overfixed, maybe.

      • suyts says:

        Lol, just maybe.

      • I am not saying there are great solutions proposed by the left. So maybe what I’m saying that compassion for “the other” is used to scam the public in some cases. And in other cases fear of “the other” accomplishes the same.

        I think we can agree that there is a lot of both in the country, and there is a lack of honest and intelligent debate to see what can be done in reality, without scamming the system.

        • suyts says:

          Well, that’s where I might disagree. There is much exploitation of “the other” by the left. And there will always be a certain element which pushes “fear of the other”. But, I don’t think most of America dwells on it. At least they didn’t until we got accused of being a racist when criticizing the president. Race is an issue because the left wants it to be an issue.

      • You know that’s exactly what I’m complaining about. Like allowing poor working class black people to get mortgages that they can’t afford, but are profitable for the banks, in order to “help them”, and then they lose everything when the economy goes south, is not helping anyone except the banks.

        But lack of real sympathy is the cause. It’s the problem of:
        the left says: throw lots of welfare at them (instead of care about their needs and see we can provide social incentives to help them)

        the right says: I don’t want my money thrown at them (instead of care about their needs and see we can provide legal roadblocks we can fix to help them)

        meanwhile it is mostly a problem of legislation, either over or under or mis-legislation.

        • sorry not provide legal roadblocks,

          I mean eliminate…

        • suyts says:

          bij, for people like me, it’s very difficult to garner sympathy for people who signed their name to something they knew they couldn’t afford. I’m very angry that these people did this. I’m angry at the banks as well, but, they were legally compelled to do so. There has been countless programs aimed at helping people retain ownership of their homes, that they never paid for. This has artificially kept the price of housing up. This deprives me of an opportunity to buy a home. I’ve been waiting for the market to drop to something I can afford ever since I lost my home in a divorce in the late 90s.

          Me, and millions of Americans were responsible and didn’t sign mortgages that we couldn’t afford. Now, we’re reaping the results of the irresponsible behavior of the vote pandering politicians, the very stupid bankers who should have been let go under, and the irresponsible behavior of the idiots who signed loans they knew they could never pay.

          It is us who didn’t participate in that madness who are being punished by the ones who did. They can reap what they sowed. I didn’t sow it, but I’m reaping it. There’s no sympathy due, unless you wish to sympathize with the people who saw this coming, shouted from the rooftops to stop, was called every vile name in the book for shouting the warning and now has to suffer with the imbeciles who made this happen.

  32. “Well, that’s where I might disagree. There is much exploitation of “the other” by the left. And there will always be a certain element which pushes “fear of the other”. But, I don’t think most of America dwells on it. At least they didn’t until we got accused of being a racist when criticizing the president. Race is an issue because the left wants it to be an issue.”

    I agree the left is exploiting it. One has only to look at the democratic national convention. I think I barely saw a single white male shown as part of the audience. And there was a subtext that either you vote for “us” and diversity or you vote for them and -> (blank), they don’t mention it but imply something sinister.

    Race is a huge part of American society. It is huge. In a non-racist discouse, race includes ethnicity and social status. And indeed that is what one sees in the US. The census distinguishes between Hispanic (most of whom are white) and non-Hispanic white.

    In fact the European Union issued a statement to that effect (though not mentioning social status, and yes I understand this is all very problematic and complicated):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_%28human_classification%29#European_Union

    “European Union
    According to European Union Council Directive,
    “ The European Union rejects theories which attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.
    Council Directive 2000/43/EC[100]

    The European Union uses the terms racial origin and ethnic origin synonymously in its documents and according to it „the use of the term “racial origin” in this directive does not imply an acceptance of such [racial] theories”.[101][102] Haney López warns that using ‘race’ as a category within the law tends to legitimize its existence in the popular imagination. In the diverse geographic context of Europe, ethnicity and ethnic origin are arguably more resonant and are less encumbered by the ideological baggage associated with ‘race’. In European context, historical resonance of ‘race’ underscores its problematic nature. In some states, it is strongly associated with laws promulgated by the Nazi and Fascist governments in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, in 1996, the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that “the term should therefore be avoided in all official texts”.[103]
    The concept of racial origin is inherently problematic, being grounded in the scientifically false notion that human beings can be separated into biologically distinct ‘races’. Since all human beings belong to the same species, the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) rejects theories based on the existence of different ‘races’. However, in its Recommendation ECRI uses this term in order to ensure that those persons who are generally and erroneously perceived as belonging to ‘another race’ are not excluded from the protection provided for by the legislation. The law claims to reject the existence of ‘race’, yet penalize situations where someone is treated less favourably on this ground.[104]”

  33. “Race is an issue because the left wants it to be an issue.”

    If you mean race is talked about because the left want it to be, then I agree 100%.

    If you mean discrimination and racism are not big problems in the US I disagree. They are probably one of the main reasons that you don’t have European style social services in the US. Even in the case where it is not government run, like the Swiss case.

    They are the main reason many Europeans want to dismantle the social services they have. (Just read the British press, and how needy immigrants are pushing ahead of the queue, ahead of long time residents in less need, and so we need to get rid of the system, rather than bear the injustice).

  34. “It is us who didn’t participate in that madness who are being punished by the ones who did. They can reap what they sowed. I didn’t sow it, but I’m reaping it. There’s no sympathy due, unless you wish to sympathize with the people who saw this coming, shouted from the rooftops to stop, was called every vile name in the book for shouting the warning and now has to suffer with the imbeciles who made this happen.”

    I agree. But you see the sad part is that the people who pushed for this against your interests and against the interests of those who were dumb enough, or desperate enough, to sign up for what they couldn’t afford, were racist and/or ignorant.

    And my main desire is not welfare for the poor. My point is that providing affordable housing for you, could have been part of a program to make housing more affordable for the poor and the racially and ethnically challenged too. But in the US universal programs are never tried.

    Medicaid is not a safety net for everyone who is under-insured, it is welfare for the lowest of the low, to keep them from dying in the streets.

  35. By the way Chomsky has been putting out a lot of material and interviews about how the Democrats have abandoned the white working class. Because they don’t want to appeal to economic issue anymore, just do what big business wants and in my opinion just get votes by making liberals feel good (and think they are not racist, because they voted for Obama).

  36. Pingback: The Current Issues of the Day | trustno1's blog

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