We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, October 29. 2007
In response to the piece we linked at Protein about Robert Reich and the Left's age-old desire to steal wealth, I reply "Appreciate and thank the wealthy, and provide a safety net for the unfortunate."
We have written about poverty in America several times. The prosperous are a precious thing, and we have tons of them in America. The more, the better. I know that not everyone pursues prosperity: many pursue other goals instead. But the more wealthy people we have, the better.
Wealthy people do not ask the government (meaning their neighbors) for stuff, they live independent lives, they donate time and money to charities, they tend to be civic-minded and grateful, they "ask not what America can do" for them, they educate their kids, they spend money and keep the retail economy rolling, they invest in businesses which grow and create jobs, etc etc.
Without the estate tax, we would have many more wealthy in America than we have now. And if more people had good old Yankee thrift and the backbone to resist every temptation, we'd have even more wealthy people. Wealth is not the most important thing in life, but private assets are the foundation of being a Free Man or Woman.
The goal of American policies should be to help create as many wealthy people and families as possible.
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While I admire and agree with most of the thoughts expressed in this essay I do believe the wealthy petiton and lobby government all the time to tilt the playing field to their end. Big business uses its larger resources to squash small business and to keep its own markets. They have been doing it since ancient times. Its human nature.
By the way thank you for this blog. I enjoy it immensely and try to get others to read it all the time.
What will the safety net provide?
Who will pay for the safety net?
Concur, thrift and backbone are on back order with arrival any day now.
One of the major attributes that defines America today is a line in your fourth paragraph, second sentence where you say,
"And if more people had good old Yankee thrift and the backbone to resist every temptation, we'd have even more wealthy people."
We have turned into a nation that is an eponym of Oscar Wilde who said he could resist anything but temptation.
We have people who have taken every last dollar of equity out of their homes to buy big screen TV's, go on vacations, and do a hundred things they cannot truly afford. Savings, huh..a joke at 1-2%
More people should be on there knees thanking the Almighty that the rich pay 95%+ of all income tax so that the government can give it to them in the form of subsidies, scholarships, fuel in the winter, etc, etc...
I don't thing either one of us is advocating a return to the Robber Barons but the fact is the middle class is volutarily turning itself into the poor through Jones'n up.
I say we coffle them up and let dingoes eat their babes ...ok strike that part.
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
John F. Kennedy
I meant to gut that JFK hypocrisy but it slithered down to the bottom of the page and I missed it...but consider it garbage...the poor don't save anyones ass but I'm glad they're around to do roofing and garbage collection......
roofing and garbage collection my ass. you jus ain't relate'n..see about this smart guy.
City of New York, Borough of Bronx
High School Math Proficiency Exam
1. Darnel has an AK-47 with a 40-round clip. If he shoots 13 times during each drive-by shooting and misses 6 out of 10 shots, how many drive by shootings can he attempt before he has to reload?
2. Jose has 2 ounces of cocaine, and he sells an 8-ball to Jackson for $320 and 2 grams to Little Mikey for $85 per gram. What is the street value of the balance of cocaine if he does not cut it?
3. Rufus is pimping 3 girls. If the price is $65 for each trick, how many tricks will each girl have to turn so Rufus can pay for his $800 per day crack habit?
4. Dino wants to cut his half-pound of heroin to make a 20% profit. How many ounces of cut will he need?
5. Willis gets $200 for stealing a BMW, $50 for a Chevy and $100 for a 4x4. If he has stolen 2 BMWs and 3 4x4s, how many Chevys will he have to steal to make $800?
6. Raoul is in prison for 6 years for murder. He got $10,000 for performing the hit. If his common law wife is spending $100 per month, how much will be left when he gets out of prison, and how many years will he get for killing the bitch for spending his money?
7. If the average spray can covers 22 square feet and the average letter is 2 square feet, how many letters can a tagger spray with 3 cans of paint?
8. Hector knocked up 6 of the girls in his gang. There are 27 girls in the gang. What percentage of the girls has Hector knocked up?
Point well taken, Grant. In the cartoon The Wizard of Id, the Guard brings a rapscallion to the Little King and says, "We caught the guy who charged us $458 for a hammer!" Remember what the wise Little King said? "Let him go and bring me the guy who paid the bill!"
The problem isn't the chickenshit guy who lobbies the government to tilt the playing field -- the problem is the government which has taken the power to tilt fields -- and which sometimes even does so for its own amusement (see, e.g., the EU Commission against Microsoft.
Years ago at Stanford Law School, a wise professor described the governmental regulation of business as a horserace in which it was mandatory to compete and illegal to win.
If government doesn't interfere in markets except to punish thieves, then everyone has a level playing field. The only oppressive monopolies in US history have been companies which had been granted exclusive markets by the government -- AT&T, the Union Pacific, public utilities in the 1930s, even Cablevision.
I have run small businesses since 1978, and the big guys can't lay a hand on us: they're too slow, too hidebound and too traditional. Only with governmental help can they bury us under regulations or price constraints.
Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of The Rights of Man and The Citizen:
"Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law."
And why do we keep the limitation of government only to equal enjoyment of rights?
Thomas Paine, Common Sense:
"Some writers have so confounded society with government,
as to leave little or no distinction between them;
whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness;
the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections,
the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one
encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first a patron, the last a punisher."
Who provides the 'safety net'? Society does, not government. Government is a restraint, not a creator of good - only society can create the good and government limit the wickedness of our hearts. When government is seen as 'able to do good' for society, then society is weakened and we care less about our fellow man as individuals. The USSR provided the entire 'safety net' from birth to death and succeeded in making everyone equal... equally poor and beholden to government for all things.
It is a damned poor society that needs 'government' to create a 'safety net': it means that society as been so dissolved that it no longer cares for the poor and hungry. The rich have realized, for generations, that they will be despised if they provide no societal good. Carnegie and Rockerfeller, as much as they were seen as exploiters, needed social institutions to try and continue on any good they created. Today Bill and Melinda Gates are out to end malaria on a global scale and Paul Allen to open up the vistas of space flight to everyone. Government has been unable to do these two tasks, and yet extremely wealthy Americans are stepping forward here. Not all the wealthy do as much, or anything, like George Soros trying to buy the Democratic Party to craft it to his own outlook. There have always been those seeking to exploit their riches to such ends, yet it is only when they step in to attack society that government has a place in responding.
Government, due to its inability to act in any way efficiently, is the last place where one wants to have a 'safety net'. I have already had to deal with that aspect of it and it does not work. Of course I never depended upon it TO work as the goal of government largesse for the disabled is to avoid paying anything so as to keep the cheaters at bay. Rather a few in need go without rather than a few scofflaws getting what they do not deserve is the concept.
Billions into education from the Federal level and even a Cabinet position, and yet Johnny can still not read at the same rate that was measured in 1958... it is a flat line, money and government have made zero difference there.
Health-care costs skyrocket because of the use of insurance and government subsidies. Insurance requires tracking of everything so they are not defrauded... that requires doctors to pony up staff and a filing system just for *insurance*. I have one doctor where medical personnel are outnumbered by clerical staff... I remember the day when one doctor had one nurse and she would double as secretary. This 'keeping track of everything' by companies and government now puts 7/8 of the money in 'health care' to administering paperwork, just like in the USSR when it was a going concern. Mind you the exact same percentage actually ending up in doctor's hands from the average wallet is the same as it was in the 1970's...
Then there is the non-investment to the SSN ponzi-scheme that is aiming to bankrupt the Nation no matter how fast it grows. The only way to remedy that is to hope for an avian flu that will kill off 90% of those over 60, because demographics and technological advances have been pushing the average age of life expectancy upwards year on year and is nearing 1:1 - for each year lived life expectancy goes up one year. That has been true for a century, but only in the latter half of the 20th century did it get to 4:1... then 3:1.... then 2:1...
What do you do when SSN is 'guaranteed' to provide benefits for 30, 40 or more years? Or when doctors are outnumbered by administrators and clerical staff? Or when those that should get 'benefits' don't meet a bureaucratic nightmare of paperwork, that has some doctor not only unconcerned with your health but unable to see you decide upon your health status?
Or putting free people in the thrall of bureaucrats and government?
Excellent thoughts. I enjoyed your piece immensely.
It will take a rebellion to implement...hey I'm becoming a one note Johnny...so be it....I see no other remedies. For at least thirty, maybe forty years we've had the SS ponzi scheme just kicked down the road, Congress unwilling to allow the private sector to invest even 1% of THEIR money in the stock market.
Why? Because over the years that would have taken trillions out of the governments hands to waste on porked up projects.
Rebellion NOW!! DO not pay your taxes!!
Good stuff, AJ. Habu, we need tax reform, Steve Forbes & many others have great ideas, and the sooner we demand change the better. The IRS code is the cardiovascular system of the Beast.
that appears to be a Farmall 560 with a wide front end. Damn, they usta make a fine machine
You have a different view of the prosperous than most - check out Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds (http://widelawns.blogspot.com/) for a unique view of the very prosperous class from one of their employees.
You'll have to go back a few months (I'd recommend starting at the beginning) since she's stopped working there.
The ultra prosperous tend to be incredibly self-centered and make Paris Hilton look normal.
No doubt you're right, Jeff. I have ..... *ahem*...... social-climbing relatives who hob-nob with some pretty prosperous people-- old-line Philadelphians, mostly. I've met some of them, and heard about others. Just why my cousins associate with them is a mystery to me.
Still, what's your point? I don't find my cousins' associates any more appealing than you would. But they're harmless, in the end-- they can do nothing to you and me without our consent. Your fellow schlep who happens to be, say, a zoning official-- well, you know as well as I do what happens when you give someone a little authority.
Let the upper-class twits keep their money. Their twitty-ness provides the rest of us with innocent amusement, and their money provides us with jobs-- after all, all that money does them absolutely no good until they spend it on the goods and services us working-stiffs supply.
"I do believe the wealthy petiton and lobby government all the time to tilt the playing field to their end. Big business uses its larger resources to squash small business and to keep its own markets. They have been doing it since ancient times. Its human nature."
Indeed many do. But not all. The quiet wealthy who earn their way to wealth are being hit with the same taxes that are passed to punish the wealthy who try to exploit the power and the pocketbook of government.
That's right--tho it might be a delicious lefty fantasy to design all "undeserved" wealth out of the system, who's gonna define--and enforce-- "undeserved"?
And how will all that confiscation not kill the incentive to build a future?
My job brings me in contact with virtually every truly wealthy person in one of the most liberal locales in the nation. I've found the vast majority of them to be grateful for what they have and willing to pony up to support programs that improve the quality of life for everyone. Yes, there are some jerks, but that's true in any population.
And all of them, with the exception of two families, are moderate to extremely liberal in their political leanings. Even though most of them suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome, they understand that part of their job is to write the checks that keep charities going.
Is it guilt as to why they feel that way? Do they give checks for their local community or the world at large ie UN. How many generations are they removed from the producer of the family wealth?
"it is a flat line, money and government have made zero difference there."
No, it's been a fairly steady decline since the 1960's, actually.
I keep telling my kids to get rich because like it or not. Not only can they help their fellow men but Freedom springs strong from a fat wallet.
If the safety net was limited to the bottom 10% then it would be a small burden that helps insure social stability and helps halt the spread of communicable diseases.
It would encourage risk taking - by the middle and lower classes.
What is killing us is the expansion of the safety net to cover 50%, 80%, 99% of the population.