Libertarianism at work (no spam)

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Libertarianism at work (no spam)

Postby fable » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:46 pm

From the Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter. Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that. Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need...


You can read the rest here. Thomas Levenson's blog covers it nicely:

This is, among other things, what folks like Megan McArdle never seem to get — not merely that governments do things that (a) private entities won’t and or can’t and (b) that are necessary if you are, say, going to have thousands or millions of folks living in close proximity to each other, and (c) those things that need to be paid for — by the people in common, that is to say, by government — include a bunch of stuff essential for a sound economy and any chance of achieving what is commonly thought of as the American way of life.

That is — it might be hard to quantify the contribution of adequate street lighting to GDP — but ask yourself what it would do to retail sales to have pools of darkness every thirty feet along a commercial street.

Or — it may not show up on a a monthly report of manufacturing output, but ask yourself whether the long-tail consequences of a diminished police presence in a factory district might include an impact on that district’s safety, and hence production — or if a change in fire response times could translate into altered insurance costs....


What exactly is so problematic with the concept of taxes in exchange for imperative services? Colorado Springs is about to find out. Maybe we can all encourage libertarians everywhere to move there, in the meantime! This could be their chance at heaven on earth.
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Postby Salidin54 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:50 pm

Awesome! A chance to play devil's advocate. What about the all the people who've had to choose between buying food or paying the utilities bill because half of their bank accounts were bludgeoned by the gov't and all of the people who won't receive Social Security because the gov't spent that money on things like private jets, limos, and hookers?
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Postby fable » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:46 pm

Salidin54 wrote:Awesome! A chance to play devil's advocate. What about the all the people who've had to choose between buying food or paying the utilities bill because half of their bank accounts were bludgeoned by the gov't and all of the people who won't receive Social Security because the gov't spent that money on things like private jets, limos, and hookers?


First off, the people in the lowest income bracket you're referring to in the US don't lose half their income to taxes: the top bracket, the 1% who own much of the private land in the country, pay only 35%. The poorest, those on welfare, pay nothing. Those above them pay about 10%.

And the government doesn't spend "on things like private jets, limos, and hookers." It's the petty thievery that takes place against the government that results in that. This is as opposed to CEOs of private corporations who say its perfectly legal to grant themselves $5 million bonuses per year for nothing at all. Even when they've driven their own businesses into the ground--just as AIP is doing at this very moment.

Let's contemplate how well the private sector does on maintaining economic fairness for a bit. So much better than the government!
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Postby Salidin54 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:54 pm

Look I would love to talk about this more but I've got to get to sleep for my morning psych class. I hope this thread doesn't get drowned in the filth of people who post without knowing anything about the subject. I'll definitely get back to you on this, it just might take a while.
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Postby fable » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:56 pm

Salidin54 wrote:Look I would love to talk about this more but I've got to get to sleep for my morning psych class. I hope this thread doesn't get drowned in the filth of people who post without knowing anything about the subject. I'll definitely get back to you on this, it just might take a while.


Of course. I will await your response with heavy anticipation and light kidneys.

Anybody else is welcome to post in the meantime, though.
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Postby Wildeyn » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:41 am

I'm a libertarian, essentially, although that is putting the cart before the horse, or the label ahead of the philosophy. I have an understanding of what works and what is moral (those two tend to coincide) regarding govt, and "libertarianism" has a good overlap with what is true and good regarding govt.

There are various versions of libertarianism, but the version I respect is the one that is based on one principle: govt exists to protect property rights. It is a straw-man type of argument to conflate libertarianism with anarchy.

Regarding streetlights, you don't need to confiscate half of peoples' wealth (or 47% of it or whatever) in order to pay for streetlighting. You do need to confiscate half or more of peoples' wealth if you are, in your own mind, nobility who is entitled to whatever you wish, like Pelosi or Obama must think, given their actions and spending. Or, if your governing strategy is to count on the stupidity and ignorance of the electorate, the you need to confiscate as much as possible to bribe and advertise and divide and conquer your way to power.

If you are serious about wanting streetlights on, then speak out against wasteful spending of all types, before you start talking about tax rates.

You have to decide something: do you believe that an act that is morally repulsive for an individual, suddenly becomes OK if a govt worker performs the same act, such as extortion of $50,000 at gunpoint?

To me, a person who votes for govt workers to do an action, is the same as a person who does the act themselves, as an individual. Any action that I condone on the part of govt, I would be willing to do myself, as an individual. If I wouldn't be willing to pull a gun on my neighbor for it, or for the money for it, then I don't support prohibiting the behavior, or using tax money for it.

If somebody does condone a govt worker threatening me with a gun so that Obama can get paid $400,000 salary, for example, then I consider them a monster who I would happily kill in self defense. If you condone using govt violence to force millions out of work because of a global warming scare, then I consider you a monster who I hope either has a change of heart (preferably), or in the absence of that, is killed so that the suffering caused by that monster can stop.

While I am sure that it may have happened somewhere, I have never personally heard a libertarian complaining about paying for streetlights. If taxes were kept to an absolute minimum, and streetlighting was paid for in a responsible manner (no govt unions, for goodness sakes), I can't imagine the vast majority of libertarians having a problem with that. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't pull a gun on my neighbor to force them to pay money for streetlights, I don't think, although I would be open to discussion on that, depending on the circumstances.

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Postby fable » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:52 am

Regarding streetlights, you don't need to confiscate half of peoples' wealth (or 47% of it or whatever) in order to pay for streetlighting.


Top US tax bracket for people making $372,950 or above is 35%, just as I wrote earlier here, not "whatever." If you're like many people who are fortunate, still have a job, and let's say earn $70,000/year, you pay 25%. That's the lowest average rate for a decent wage earner in a Western style democracy. 25% is pretty far from 47%, no?

And of course that doesn't just pay for streetlighting, so let's not play semantic games when what you mean are "all services people believe necessary to their lives and their community's functioning." Just as the article at the top noted--you did read it, I'm assuming. Because everybody who read your remark about streetlamps also read in that article about how Colorado Springs is doing without many police, firemen, garbage pickup, etc. This isn't an issue that can be dismissed by pointing to an object to make fun of it.

You do need to confiscate half or more of peoples' wealth if you are, in your own mind, nobility who is entitled to whatever you wish, like Pelosi or Obama must think, given their actions and spending.


Again, semantics, since nobody is confiscating anywhere near one-third of people's wealth, much less half of it. And the Obama budget is considerably lower than the various Bush budgets once you adjust for the bank bailouts and job creation programs necessitated by Bush's laissez-faire, do-what-you-want-guys-with-all-those-bad-mortgages green light. (Which isn't to give Obama a free pass on anything. He even raised the defense budget and added a second war, instead of lowering it and closing down the one ridiculous war Bush had started.) I strongly suggest looking up and reading Krugman, Yglesias, and Galbraith on this. No matter what your political suasion, they really have the charts and data, and they present it all footnoted and fairly.

You have to decide something: do you believe that an act that is morally repulsive for an individual, suddenly becomes OK if a govt worker performs the same act, such as extortion of $50,000 at gunpoint?


In what version of the US are you living, that private corporations are regarded as morally repulsive for the public at large? In what version of the US has government spending been used as anything but a catchall dirty word since Reagan built his campaign around it in 1979--after which he ramped up the budget tremendously, through the defense sector? So let's re-word your question for less fog, and make it two parts. Do you recognize the need to establish firm laws with criminal provisions for ethically repugnant corporate behavior--the same kind of behavior for which demagogues whip up anger against government spending of all sorts (except overseas wars), such as excessive bonuses? Do you recognize the need to establish a non-governmental board of oversight made up of legal scholars that can and will recommend prosecution against members of Congress who are suspected of being in violation of the law? My answer is yes, to both. What about you?

If somebody does condone a govt worker threatening me with a gun so that Obama can get paid $400,000 salary...


Did you also complain as loudly when Bush was making the same amount? Are you complaining even louder about the private corporations whose CEOs and top executives are rewarding themselves with huge cash bonuses--in several instances, more than $5 million--in these tough times? Shining the light on a $400,000 salary as you've done above, while ignoring what has been written factually at great length about a large group of bank and credit company CEOs and other corporate executives paying themselves more than 10 times that in bonuses, not in salaries, at businesses that have done poorly by their own admission, seems to indicate that your arguments are ideologically driven, rather than a case of analyzing reality and then deriving conclusions.

So if you dislike the fact that the top government executive for the entire country makes $400,000, do you think it is undeserved? And if so, does that mean you also believe in wage controls on the private sector, to prevent salaries that make those in government look like chicken feed? Or do you just dislike moderate salaries for leading the whole country, while approving of enormous bonuses (and salaries, yes) granted by private sector executives to themselves?

I'd appreciate an answer to these questions raised by your own concerns. You're articulate, and I'm interested in your replies. And not just for the purpose of rebuttal, either.

While I am sure that it may have happened somewhere, I have never personally heard a libertarian complaining about paying for streetlights.


A strawman argument, laughing at something nobody ever said. But quite a few libertarians complain about paying any kind of tax, and others about paying a tax on income. If you eliminate taxes or a tax base sufficient to pay for all the services people expect and need, you end up doing without the services. There go your police, your firemen, your school teachers, your emergency responders, Colorado Springs, just as the article linked above notes. There's a direct relationship between that situation, and those who demand either an end or at best a sharp decline in taxation. There are numerous ways to gain revenue for services, and there are questions to be answered about what kinds of services are really required in a modern society. But hysterical demagogues in the public eye waving anti-tax, destroy-the-government banners against a blandly conservative, unimaginative president, a corrupt, obstructionist senate, and a corporatist-stacked activist supreme court don't really deal with either of those issues that deserve honest, serious discussion.
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Postby Xandax » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:37 am

I'm properly what Americans would call a libertarian (Actually - I'm a liberalist, but for some reason that means something else for some) .
At the core - I would prefer user-driven payments for services. Need to use the road - then roadpricing. Need to use the hospital, then some sense of payment is in order and so on.

However, I'm also very much pragmatic and a realist and like any political (or economical) theory, the weak point is humans and humanity.

To provide safety for the ones who can't defend themselves and fend for themselves, Governments needs to exists and perform basic securities and services. Otherwise we do enter a state of anarchism where strong means right. And I wager few people actually want this when truthful.
And for Governments to perform services, we need taxes and we need people to pay taxes based on their capacity. This much is pretty given and that's why we pay the taxes and we pay it as a percentage of income.

Where the real issue in my opinion is, is defining when and where to say that this is something you need to pay for as an individual and this is something the government should pay for (and then you via taxation), and I think this is the crux of the matter.

I think what Colorado Springs is up to might very well be an eye opener for many of the people who believe that "governmental spending" should be limited, because often people who think this way aren't as well aware of how it actually will be if it hits them. Like it is going to in this instance.

The people who usually argue against spending are also often arguing against services they themselves don't need or plan on using. I do this myself - I hate paying for public television, paying for roads I don't drive on etc, but I do it still because I know it is needed by others (this is where my pragmatism as well.)
But when it hits the streetlights and policeforce (as in this instance) which they plan on using - the instrument starts playing a different tune.
It'll be very interesting to see how this "social experiment" will progress.
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Postby Salidin54 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:56 am

Dang it! I can't go against the grain when both sides are represented. I guess I'm gonna have to approach this seriously then, just not right now.
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Postby Salidin54 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:46 pm

I believe that Libertarians see taxes as a form of oppression on them since the gov't tends to do things like this http://councilfor.cagw.org/site/DocServer/Pig_Book_full__April_13_2009_.pdf?docID=3561 with taxpayer money. Personally I think taxes are good as long as they are spent on useful things like paving roads and maintaining a police force.
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[SIZE=12px]"FOR THE SWARM!!!!!"[/size]
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Postby fable » Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:41 pm

Salidin54 wrote:I believe that Libertarians see taxes as a form of oppression on them since the gov't tends to do things like this http://councilfor.cagw.org/site/DocServer/Pig_Book_full__April_13_2009_.pdf?docID=3561 with taxpayer money.


I would have to disagree on this, somewhat. I've know of quite a few libertarians who simply disagree with the concept of taxation on the private sector no matter how it the monies are spent, as an unwarranted interference. Typically, libertarians aren't a single, unified group, though as a whole, they do seem to think taxes are a bad idea, and government is a pretty bad one, as well.

Personally I think taxes are good as long as they are spent on useful things like paving roads and maintaining a police force.


Thing is, you can't have "good" things being taxed without some people claiming that your evil is their good, and vice versa. The people who own and run a corporation that makes circuitry for sidewinder missiles will insist that laws benefiting their business are good; the small businessowner who sells business cards will insist money spent benefiting him or her are good. The person who thinks putting up a statue to Joseph E. Johnston in her hometown will make it more beautiful, and attract more attention, is asking taxes to be spent for what they believe to be good. Each will argue to the death what concerns are paramount to their community, and the kicker is that since they are the community, and the creators of government, they will all want a say.

What's more, since the corporations have the ability to make that say more, shall we say, a lot more audible, they will usually end up being heard first, and last.
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Postby Wildeyn » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:57 am

Fable, I'll make a few general points then I'll address some of your specific questions or arguments.

My 47% (or whatever) tax rates included soc sec, which is ~12%, medicare, which is about 2.7%, and state tax, and sales tax, and property tax. Income tax plus soc sec and medicare drive the Fed tax to about 38%. State taxes tend to be around 5-10%. And then there are property and sales, as I mentioned, and random hidden other stuff, like DMV fees and such. And then there is the huge corp tax of 25 or 35%, which is passed on to some significant degree. I'd say that my number is quite justified, and the fact that you left out soc sec and medicare from your tax calculation is odd.

About anything I say being ideologically driven, I'll sum up my ideology in a bit of a longer form than I previously did.

First and foremost, my political, religious, and all of the rest of my ideology is based around 1 all important idea: I, and everybody else, should seek to understand that which is true and good, and all else comes a distant second. For example, proving that my current opinions are correct, or pursuing my current goals, are both utterly unimportant compared with seeking to understand that which is true and good.

By contrast, peoples' minds, by default, prioritize the defense of their current ideas, and prioritize their current goals, and, by their actions and thoughts, treat seeking understanding of what is actually true and actually good as something to be ignored. People tend to view attempts by others to change their ideas as attacks, without regard to what really matters, which is whether the attempt is based in truth or in error.

In other words, to tell if somebody is your ally or enemy, it isn't enough to just know that they are trying to change your ideas. You need to know, correctly, whether the person's ideas are correct or not in order to know if they are your ally or enemy, so to speak.

Regarding politics specifically, these three principles probably sum up my core understanding and core position:

1: Govt should seek to protect property rights, period.

2: There is no difference, morally, between a govt worker (including the president, etc.) and any other citizen.

3: Otherwise immoral actions cease to become immoral if you are faced with essential certainty of a sort of clear damned if you do, damned if you don't sort of scenario.

To explain 3, take the example of investigating a murder. Acts that would normally be immoral violations of property rights, such as detaining a suspect, shutting down a property that is a crime scene, or searching the property of a suspect. In any of those cases, the moral thing, it seems to me, is to take a sort of minimalist, respectful, and responsible approach to those necessary violations.

Taxation and govt spending fall in the same category, potentially. Taxation is fundamentally immoral, because it is literally extortion. However, if it is absolutely the only way to prevent something worse, then it could be ok. Before taxing at all, an attempt to finance the activity through non-coercive means should probably be tried, such as govt property rentals, donations, fee-for-service, and so forth.

- Note that in Russia, there is a military draft that is similar to slavery (mandatory, despite no war, and no pay, and horrible circumstances for those drafted). But, they continue the practice, because they claim that they could not build an army based on paid volunteers. And yet, in America we do just that, with better results all around. Similarly, pro-tax people tend to jump to the conclusion that only coercive taxation and govt control of something can work, without trying alternatives first. Sort of like how liberals tend to believe that war is a last option, it would be good for them also to believe that taxation and govt control is a last option. -

Charities and cooperatives have historically done several things that it is now alleged that "only the govt can do."

*******

Regarding Bush's salary, of course I object to Bush's $400k as much as I object to Obama. No politician, in my opinion, should get a salary. I don't mind paying govt workers such as policemen, but I wouldn't pay an elected or appointed lawmaker. Policemen and other govt workers should be paid whatever the least is that they can be paid, as long as we can still find moderately competent workers. Any pay beyond that amounts to confiscating money from one person to give as forced 'charity' to another.

And no govt workers should unionize, obviously, because at that point we should just kill off the govt in a coup, since the entire point of unions is the alleged tyranny of the employer. Govt unions literally collect dues and pay those dues to particular lawmakers who in turn pass laws taking money from citizens and giving it to the unions. I hope that seems immoral to you. If not, your moral compass is so different from mine that conversation becomes a bit hard to have.

When you started talking about 'deserving' a salary, you showed a belief in an assumption that I would argue is fundamentally, and knowably, wrong. It is an assumption that liberals, and others, commonly have, but it is quite wrong-minded, and I hope to convince you of this.

'Deserving' money is essentially an absurdity, except in the sort of circular sense that, whatever money you earned without using fraud or coercion, you 'deserve.'

Many people, when it comes to politics, can't seem to realize that there is a world of difference between coercion and non-coercive choice. With sex, the difference is rape. Between friends and neighbors, the difference is robbery or a gift. So, a bonus paid by a private corporation, if it doesn't involve fraud or coercion of anybody, is totally fine. Conversely, any salary at all given to an elected politician is immoral. If they don't like getting no money, they shouldn't run, and plenty still would. And don't argue that then they would accept bribes. A salary is going to make so little difference regarding the likelihood of accepting a bribe.

Now, when a corporation gets in bed with govt and gets laws passed that favor it or give it money, that is immoral and should be illegal, of course. Unfortunately, that happens. There are only two ways for a corporation be 'evil.' It has to break the law by defrauding people or threatening them with violence, or it has to bribe politicians to do that for them.

You mentioned Krugman, and you argued that Bush spent more than Obama, so I assume that you are a liberal. As such, you might believe that corporations are in bed with the GOP, or that most CEO's are Republicans. I believe that is no longer true, but these days, for every 'fact' that I cite, there is something saying the opposite somewhere, so I won't bother with it. At least we know that GE (which owns NBC and MSNBC and is heavily invested in 'green energy' - err not sure if Comcast recently acquired one of those stations however) is involved in obvious and transparent crony capitalism with Dems, so they definitely do it, big time. Serious Materials is also similarly in bed with the Dems.

I'd say that the Iraq war is a gray area of the type I mentioned in my point I labeled as '3' above. Of course, invading a country and accidentally, but predictably, killing civilians, is, in a vacuum, immoral, but I think that a reasonable person could argue that it was a case of forced immorality of the sort that I tried to explain earlier. Between the real threat of Islamism, the reasonable idea that state sponsors of terror matter, the knowledge that Hussein was going to be killing plenty of civilians regardless, and the reasonable idea that a pro-America democracy in the Mid East could promote peace, I think that it is not fair to speak as if the Iraq war is automatically immoral, just like it would be unfair for me to say that any level of taxation is automatically immoral.

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Postby fable » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:56 pm

Wildeyn, thank you for your post. I've been very busy, so I couldn't respond to it earlier. Now that I've reread it, I honestly don't find much to respond to. You've ignored the subject of the thread, which focuses on the collapse of necessary community services due to a lack of tax monies to run them in Colorado Springs, and the issues this raises. And you focused on stating at length your hatred for government. You said you'd answer my specific questions. You didn't, save it appears what you wanted, about government. Here are the others, again:

Do you recognize the need to establish firm laws with criminal provisions for ethically repugnant corporate behavior--the same kind of behavior for which demagogues whip up anger against government spending of all sorts (except overseas wars), such as excessive bonuses?

And if so, does that mean you also believe in wage controls on the private sector, to prevent salaries that make those in government look like chicken feed? Or do you just dislike moderate salaries for leading the whole country, while approving of enormous bonuses (and salaries, yes) granted by private sector executives to themselves?


As for a couple of examples of the bonuses: JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was awarded $17 million, this year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein got $9 million from the corporate board that he sits on, all of whom awarded themselves bonuses. All of this money came out of the cash to keep these lending corporations afloat. There are dozens of other, similar examples out there. The wealthiest elite awarding themselves enormous bonuses for incompetent leadership of organizations that they led into bankruptcy. While more Americans are now below the poverty line than at any time since the Great Depression. If evil is a condition of putting oneself ahead of the concerns of all others, including society at large, than these people fit the definition better than anyone else I can think of.

I'd really, really like to hear some acknowledgment from you that the problem isn't government, but people who are allowed to accumulate tremendous power, whether in corporate control, or governmental control. But I've yet to meet or speak with a libertarian who will deal with the first part of this, for all that there are numerous flavors of libertarianism. It's as though somehow corporations must be basically good and clean, while the same people in government must necessarily be evil and foul. Despite the fact that the two work hand in glove, and that we have government of corporatism--which is rule by corporation, through its well-bribed officials. Many of those bribes public knowledge, too.

As for my views: they are all over the board. And I view the Democratic Party as only slightly less loathsome than the Republican, based on the average level of its state and federal members' willingness to serve the interests honestly and intelligently of those who elected him/her. Many of whom on both sides of the aisle have very close ties with corporations that actually dictate the bills that get passed. Not to mention the reviled "revolving door" that sees House members serve as industry CEOs, get their goals enacted in Congress, then go back to being industry CEOs, again. Do you need examples? I can provide you with several dozen easily.

Krugman and Yglesias: I recommend their economic analysis for different reasons. Krugman is simply right very much more often than not, and has been since the 1990s. He doesn't disdain the lessons of history, and he is extremely wide-read on world economics and government. Yglesias asks questions nobody else asks, and is willing to take unpopular stands if he finds they make sense.

You may have also missed Xandax's response to you. I mention it out of courtesy to him. :)

Meanwhile, in keeping with our thread, there are still old ads out there trying to attract business to Colorado Springs by boasting it has some of the lowest property taxes in the nation. Of course, if you don't have sewer services, firemen, policemen, emergency services, public schools, etc, you're going to find very quickly that low property taxes simply aren't the entire equation. Quality of life isn't defined by a simple "low taxes." It's defined by what you get out of the life you live. Colorado Springs is discovering that right now.
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Postby Ode to a Grasshopper » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:08 am

How did I miss this?

Of course Fable has already covered most of the actual salient points as usual, but...
Wildeyn wrote:If somebody does condone a govt worker threatening me with a gun so that Obama can get paid $400,000 salary, for example, then I consider them a monster who I would happily kill in self defense.
...has this ever actually happened to you?
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Postby Chanak » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:44 am

I am not in the business of back-patting; however, in essence I feel fable has done an admirable job in hammering out the reality of the situation as it faces us.

fable wrote:...the collapse of necessary community services due to a lack of tax monies to run them in Colorado Springs, and the issues this raises.


This is faced on all fronts in the United States at this time. In some cases and in some states, such a thing has been going on for quite some time now. The infrastructure has been crumbling for decades now, because tax revenue was either non-existent...or in the most nefarious of cases, diverted from their intended use.

And if so, does that mean you also believe in wage controls on the private sector, to prevent salaries that make those in government look like chicken feed? Or do you just dislike moderate salaries for leading the whole country, while approving of enormous bonuses (and salaries, yes) granted by private sector executives to themselves?[/color]

As for a couple of examples of the bonuses...


An excellent illustration, fable. Such things still gall me when I consider them. They shouldn't, but they do.

...the problem isn't government, but people who are allowed to accumulate tremendous power, whether in corporate control, or governmental control. But I've yet to meet or speak with a libertarian who will deal with the first part of this, for all that there are numerous flavors of libertarianism. It's as though somehow corporations must be basically good and clean, while the same people in government must necessarily be evil and foul. Despite the fact that the two work hand in glove, and that we have government of corporatism--which is rule by corporation, through its well-bribed officials. Many of those bribes public knowledge, too.


Emphasis there is mine. To me, that is the bottom line message.

Meanwhile, in keeping with our thread, there are still old ads out there trying to attract business to Colorado Springs by boasting it has some of the lowest property taxes in the nation. Of course, if you don't have sewer services, firemen, policemen, emergency services, public schools, etc, you're going to find very quickly that low property taxes simply aren't the entire equation. Quality of life isn't defined by a simple "low taxes." It's defined by what you get out of the life you live. Colorado Springs is discovering that right now.


Amazing, the minds swayed by The Big Lie and propaganda. Above is a great example. People can be lead to believe that the grass is very green near a particular nuclear facility...just never you mind those documented cases of three-eyed fish and frogs with five or more limbs, okay? Lies, all of them. ;)
CYNIC, n.:
A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
-[url="http://www.alcyone.com/max/lit/devils/a.html"]The Devil's Dictionary[/url]

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fable
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Postby fable » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:54 pm

Just as a followup to the way corporatism rules the US, give this a read. And weep.
To the Righteous belong the fruits of violent victory. The rest of us will have to settle for warm friends, warm lovers, and a wink from a quietly supportive universe.

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Postby Ode to a Grasshopper » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:23 am

[url="http://captaincapitalism.blogspot.com/"]*sigh*[/url]
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Postby P. T. Lazarus » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:20 pm

[font="Arial Narrow"][SIZE="2"]First, an opening note on “libertarians.” Fable, you have chastised me in the past for assuming your “liberal” viewpoints, or coloring you with too broad a (liberal) brush. I will only say that I believe you should investigate further some of the exceedingly varied points of view that libertarianism embraces. You say that “I've know of quite a few libertarians who simply disagree with the concept of taxation on the private sector no matter how it the monies are spent, as an unwarranted interference.” Well, and I have known quite a few who have no qualms with paying taxes if they believe that they are being used for purposes which they deem worthy, accountable, and lawful. And, yes, there are many, many, many different libertarian views on what is worthy, accountable, and lawful. And, yes, some libertarians believe in no such thing as a lawful tax.

Apropos, the second article to which you link in your first post incidentally comments about a ”libertarian” blogger by the name of Megan McArdle. First, I believe she has generally eschewed the title of libertarian, but even if you take her as a libertarian, then you should know that her suggested tax plan (and, yes, she believes taxes are lawful and necessary) is fairly “progressive” (or, regressive, depending on your PoV). Here it is, for reference (back when Megan was Jane):

Asymmetrical Information: The Jane Galt Tax Plan

But, then again, you have a guy like Forbes (also a sometimes-called libertarian) who believes that a flat tax (of, I believe 5 to 7%) is fair. And, again, you have those who believe no tax can ever be justified.

Please respect the diversity of the libertarian movement.

Next, you do (seemingly) acknowledge diversity in the following quote: “I'd really, really like to hear some acknowledgment from you that the problem isn't government, but people who are allowed to accumulate tremendous power, whether in corporate control, or governmental control. But I've yet to meet or speak with a libertarian who will deal with the first part of this, for all that there are numerous flavors of libertarianism. It's as though somehow corporations must be basically good and clean, while the same people in government must necessarily be evil and foul. Despite the fact that the two work hand in glove, and that we have government of corporatism--which is rule by corporation, through its well-bribed officials. Many of those bribes public knowledge, too.”

(Italics added by me for emphasis, just to acknowledge your acknowledgement of the “flavors” of libertarianism.)

First, if you really have never heard or seen a libertarian rail against corporatism, you … well, should expand your pool of libertarian study. I would suggest a quick search of a solidly libertarian site, Reason magazine. Search there for the term corporatism. My search found this article (among others):

Corporatism, Not Capitalism - Reason Magazine

On the very subject you do not seem to understand: libertarians despise corporatism, but only get really, really upset when people confound the terms corporatism and capitalism (see, for example, Michael Moore’s latest movie, “Capitalism, A Love Story,” which isn’t about capitalism at all – a fact which Moore himself has acknowledged).

Secondly, I in no way regard corporations as inherently “clean.” I regard them as they act. Some act to curry favor and advantage through government (bad corporations!) while some genuinely attempt to work market advantage (good corporations!). [If you want a more hard core view, read Atlas Shrugged – as I know you have – which is if nothing else a 100% repudiation of corporatism.] The problem that libertarians see (while others sometime don’t) is that it is by the very nature of government that corporatism can succeed: the government can allow unfair practices to continue where the free market would not. You can see this in the continuous subsidy of things like Amtrak or the Post Office; or you can detect it in the health care bill which has handed insurance companies and big pharma a very large check (which, by the way, may be taken away at any moment on the whim of the current congress and/or white house – so kinda a foolish deal, IMHO); or you can see it in the bailouts of car companies, and wall street; or you can see it in the ugly case of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. Government can do all of these things because they make and enforce the laws – sometimes (libertarians believe) contrary to the spirit of the constitution, or at any rate a free and dynamic society – and because they have the power (seemingly limitless). They also have (what they seem to deem) an unlimited supply of money (taxes).

On a similar theme, your quote directed at Wildeyne: “I'd really, really like to hear some acknowledgment from you that the problem isn't government, but people who are allowed to accumulate tremendous power, whether in corporate control, or governmental control.” OK, you got it: I totally and completely agree with you 100%. Except that I would take exception to the manner in which you state it. Carefully examine your sentence: “the problem isn’t government” and then “whether in corporate control, or governmental control.” Do you see how that first portion contradicts half of the second portion? I also believe that some definition of “tremendous power” would be useful. Because, again, think about the two sides of the coin: the government accumulates power, and, rarely, if ever, relinquishes that power. It does (like allowing for the sale of alcohol after prohibition) but you must agree that it is a rare thing.

Compare that to the dynamism of an open market. Absent government intervention/subsidy/protectionism, libertarians believe that the market will tend not to atrophy into some insurmountable monolith. They do not have laws that they can pass; they do not have the force of police or military; they cannot force anyone to do anything – because if they try, someone else will always come along with a new idea.

That is the principle libertarians believe. You may (and I suspect you do) disagree. We have had discussions previously on how the market (and marketing) can manipulate and accumulate a preponderance of market share, such that no competition is possible. I disagree. I would refer you to the Austrian school of economics for the standard libertarian argument against market monopolies, etc. (And I am sure you can suggest some contrary economic schools – yadda yadda.) I will say, though, that even here libertarians disagree, and there are lively discussions on whether market monopolies are possible for extended periods (discounting fraud, of course) without government complicity.

At the same time I should be clear: I also believe that government can be more dynamic than it is showing itself to be in the 20th/21st century, and I believe it can change. If I didn’t, I’d be a much, much more depressed person!

At any rate, to return to your original post: I would only suggest that there may be more to the subject than your rather subjective second link suggests. For what I regard as a very insightful look at state spending practices, I would refer you to this story:

Class War - Reason Magazine

It starts a bit slow on the subject of license plates, but it really does show where many, many state deficits are coming from. Or, the great example of California:

California: Harbinger of Fiscal Doom - Reason Magazine

The point of these articles is simple: state spending is out of control. And I do not believe that the example of Colorado Springs is a particularly “libertarian” one. It is a state (city, whatever) like all others. It pays its employees more than industry standard (as noted in the first link you provide) and the nature of a state (with state employees) is such that they will usually continue to increase their wealth through further taxation. When faced with a budget deficit, a great tactic is to shut off lights and say that this is the shape of things to come. What they don’t say is: well, it is either that, or Mr. State Employee loses his $100,000 / year pension with awesome health care benefits to boot.

I read through numerous articles on the subject of Colorado Springs in order to determine if, indeed, they were up against a pension/entitlement problem. I could find no definitive answer. There was a list of city employees, with corresponding salaries, but it is difficult to evaluate without knowledge of open market pay rates and additional compensation (such as the usually overly generous pension and health benefits that government employees enjoy).

However, if they are like most cities/states, that is a primary cause of their problem. More articles to re-iterate the point:

In We-Are-Out-of-Money Headlines - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

You have described yourself (correct me if I am wrong) as fiscally conservative. I would hope that you give credence to stories like the above, and understand that simply wanting low taxes and accountability of state funding practices is not some crazy libertarian view – it is really just common sense.

[/size][/font]
[font="Arial"][SIZE="4"]A [/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="3"]is [/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="4"]A[/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="2"] ... but Siouxsie defies definition[/size][/font]

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P. T. Lazarus
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Postby P. T. Lazarus » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:22 pm

Dang character limit

[font="Arial Narrow"][SIZE="2"]One thing is certain from the article you provide (and others that I have read): the option of increasing property taxes was openly voted upon, and was struck down. So regardless of whys and wherefores, the people are getting what they asked for. If the loss of services are a problem to them, let them decide how to proceed. They can always vote for more taxes … it is getting rid of taxes in place that gets a wee bit troublesome.

I generally dislike the tone of that second link in your first post, with the combative: “see what your kind of thinking leads to?!” mentality. So I tend to dismiss it. I do think you are looking for an answer to exactly that question, but I can only repeat my original point: there is no one libertarian answer to “collective” questions such as roads, police, pollution, etc. There is no one libertarian answer to anything – sadly, I sometimes think, because trying to get them to agree on just about anything is impossible, and it makes for a pretty weak political party. Ah, well.

Bottom line: I do believe the philosophy (or political view, if you prefer) is far more varied than you give credit, and I do believe Colorado Springs is far less libertarian (or unusual) than you imply.

I should be clear, too: yes, I am “Lazarus” from all those years ago. I couldn’t remember either my password, nor which e-mail address I had had back then, so I created a new account. I tried an e-mail to Buck, but I’m sure he has better things to do, and never got a reply. If you would like to merge this post back to my old account or whatever, let me know (here). I’d like to have that old one back … good times.

[/size][/font]
[font="Arial"][SIZE="4"]A [/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="3"]is [/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="4"]A[/size][/font][font="Arial"][SIZE="2"] ... but Siouxsie defies definition[/size][/font]

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Postby Ode to a Grasshopper » Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:28 am

Hiya Laz - suggest you try Buck again, I forgot my password a few times over and he not only got me access to the old account but also merged my various posts under my replacement accounts into the original Odie account.
Cheers as ever Buck.

On a related note, I'm reading Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine atm - it's proving to be quite an interesting read.
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