Leo finds Jon Stewart helping out the policy debaters; I find a great assistant coach for Lincoln-Douglas... and the Democrat I've been looking for.
Via Nathan Johnson and my wife's recommendation, here is Elizabeth Warren's one-minute primer on the social contract (second half of this amazingly straightforward video):
I hear all this, you know, "Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever."—No!
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.
You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
You didn't have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along [Elizabeth Warren, public forum, transcribed by "rumproast", 2011.09.20].
Those of us who believe in government (and thus in ourselves, in all citizens) aren't fighting class warfare. We're fighting against the warfare of the state of nature where the big guys eat the little guys. We're fighting for the idea that everybody deserves real liberty and education and the opportunity to do big things, not just the handful of barons who can afford big castles and cannons or the brigands who are willing to rape and pillage.
Elizabeth Warren understands the social contract, and she's able to explain it in clear, concrete language. Democrats, the above one-minute thesis is your framework for victory in 2012.
Amen, Elizabeth. Most of us want to live in a civilized society, and civilization costs money. I like roads, education, airports, bridges, law enforcement, regulation of food/air/water/drugs/diseases, and, of course, a world in which you don't have to bribe everyone to get anything or have someone standing at your door with an Uzi to protect what's yours once you have it. All of this requires government. And if you think that the private sector will do it, check out the great job the private sector has done in Somalia.
"All of this requires government."
It is through government that the "handful of barons who can afford big castles and cannons or the brigands who are willing to rape and pillage" "bribe everyone to get anything". And exactly how? "[R]egulation of food/air/water/drugs/diseases".
We are on the same page Eve as to waht is the problem. Unfortunately you and Cory (and many others) have the cause and effect turned around. Research the 19th century railroads and how they welcomed government regulation to eliminate the small guy's competition.
[CAH: Aaarrgghh! Steve! So we act democratically, keep a tight grip on the government, elect people like Elizabeth and Eve who won't be hoodwinked by the corporate lobbyists, and keep the government working in the interest of the people. Government is not some independent entity beyond our control. Government is us, if we want it to be, and we can take it by the horns and make it do what we want it to do.]
The vast majority of Republicans and conservatives also support the "Social Contract" and support most of all the items she lists. We might disagree on scope of the regulations, etc., the manner under which they are paid for, or whether it is a federal, state, or local matter.
However, when you insist that all efforts to pay for the new and expanded programs should fall on the business owners or their most successful with little or no additional contribution from the rest of the populace, you are advocating class warfare and redistributionism. The argument you liberals are the only ones who desire and have ideas about better roads, law enforcement, or roads is a red herring and intellectually/factually incorrect.
"However, when you insist that all efforts to pay for the new and expanded programs should fall on the business owners or their most successful with little or no additional contribution from the rest of the populace, you are advocating class warfare and redistributionism."
I will admit to advocating class self-defense not class warfare. I grew up without indoor plumbing and was able to earn an MA and a basic middle class living. The American dream worked. I have no hope that my children are going to improve as much as I did; in fact, I am certain that they will be less off than I am.
Where you and I differ, I don't see hordes of poor, lazy people seeking to live off the work of others. I see lots of hardworking people trying their best to hold on to what they have and get to retirement.
If I see any "redistributionism," it's from the 150 million people at the bottom of social ladder redistributing their wealth to the 400 people at the top of the social ladder. http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/
I am not going to argue that job producers should be unduly hindered, but I will not accept that they are all kind, benevolent people who place a priority on creating jobs. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of the "job creators" will shed jobs from their firms once a robot becomes cheaper than an employee. That's not to say that they are evil, but that the motive if profit not improving the lives of those around them.
I think you honestly believe that Adam Smith's invisible hand works. It might have worked in a Jeffersonian America of small shopkeepers and yeoman farmers. It's not going to work in an America where 7 banks are too big to fail or where Apple's net worth is greater than all the homes in Atlanta or all the farmland in South Dakota and Iowa if it sold for $4200 an acre. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/things-apple-is-worth-more-than-all-of-atlantas-homes-singapores-gdp-and-more/245472/
I donâ€™t hate the rich, and I donâ€™t romanticize the poor, but if I am going to fear one or the other, Iâ€™m a hell of a lot more scared of the harm the rich will do to me than I am of the harm trying to protect the poor will do.
"I like paying taxes: with them I buy civilization." Me and Oliver Wendell Holmes agree. "
"Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people. " Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter IX, pg.117.
"Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favor of the masters." Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter x, Part II, pg.168
[CAH: Bonus points to Eve for proper use of Adam Smith!]
"I donâ€™t see hordes of poor, lazy people seeking to live off the work of others. I see lots of hardworking people trying their best to hold on to what they have and get to retirement.
If I see any â€œredistributionism,â€ itâ€™s from the 150 million people at the bottom of social ladder redistributing their wealth to the 400 people at the top of the social ladder."
I especially agree with your last statement regarding "redistributionism". I would like to clarify some viewpoints. I do not think "the 400 people at the top of the social ladder" are concerned about "hordes of poor, lazy people seeking to live off the work of others". The wealthy view welfare as a means to increase the consumption of their goods and services and thereby serve to make themselves even wealthier. It is the "hardworking people" providing the goods and services who "see hordes of poor, lazy people seeking to live off the work of others" not being as bad off materialistically as they once were.
In other words the â€œredistributionismâ€ is going to both the lazy poor and the wealthy class at the very top, with the working middle class providing the wealth. That is why you "see lots of hardworking people trying their best to hold on to what they have and get to retirement." And that you "have no hope that my children are going to improve as much".
And as I have said over and over, the cause is the expansion of the government beyond the limited scope set forth by the founders. A socialist styled government has become beneficial to the capitalists. The Democrat socialist versus the Republican capitalist is a distraction designed to keep the masses fighting among themselves. The top dogs of both parties are working together more than we think.
[CAH: LK nails this, saying we have much more to fear from abuses by the rich than abuses by the poor.]
"Those of us who believe in government (and thus in ourselves, in all citizens) arenâ€™t fighting class warfare. Weâ€™re fighting against the warfare of the state of nature where the big guys eat the little guys."
Cory, I think that's a better mantra for Democratic victory in 2012 than Warren's "one-minute primer" as you listed it above. And I say that as a Republican.
The Achilles heel of my beloved GOP is that we all too often end up facilitating "Robin Hood in reverse." We've gotta cut that out.
[CAH: Thanks, Stan! I'll still defer to Warren. Hers is the one-minute debate response; mine is the 15-second rebuttal.]
You made many false statements/assumptions about my views. Let me correct them.
"Where you and I differ, I donâ€™t see hordes of poor, lazy people seeking to live off the work of others. I see lots of hardworking people trying their best to hold on to what they have and get to retirement."
Neither do I. I believe the vast preponderance of people (rich, middle, and poor) are good, honorable, hardworking people.
"If I see any â€œredistributionism,â€ itâ€™s from the 150 million people at the bottom of social ladder redistributing their wealth to the 400 people at the top of the social ladder."
The fastest and best way to redistribute the wealth is for a person of means to hire another person, spend their money, etc. To turn them into hoarders does not help the poor as the current economic fiasco proves.
"I am not going to argue that job producers should be unduly hindered, but I will not accept that they are all kind, benevolent people who place a priority on creating jobs. Iâ€™m willing to bet that the vast majority of the â€œjob creatorsâ€ will shed jobs from their firms once a robot becomes cheaper than an employee. Thatâ€™s not to say that they are evil, but that the motive if profit not improving the lives of those around them."
This is a Luddite argument that has been argued for centuries. The evidence of history is anything that allows an employee to use their brain vs. their brawn has increased standards of living, made the employee more valuable, and resulted in more job creation.
"I think you honestly believe that Adam Smithâ€™s invisible hand works."
I totally agree with the invisible hand.
"Itâ€™s not going to work in an America where 7 banks are too big to fail"
I agree with you here too. However, it is the government that has created these big banks because of their regulation and subsidy via FDIC insurance, etc. The most recent Dodd-Frank bill virtually insures the largest banks will have disproprotionate and negative influence.
"where Appleâ€™s net worth is greater than all the homes in Atlanta or all the farmland in South Dakota and Iowa if it sold for $4200 an acre."
If I want to bet on Apple stock to go up, what do you care and how does that affect you?
"I donâ€™t hate the rich, and I donâ€™t romanticize the poor but if I am going to fear one or the other, Iâ€™m a hell of a lot more scared of the harm the rich will do to me than I am of the harm trying to protect the poor will do."
Like I said before, I attribute the same percentage of acting with right motive to the poor and rich. Morality or susceptibility to corruption is no more tempting to the rich vs. poor or vice versa.
Furthermore, everything in my personal, political, economic views are grounded with one over-riding principle: a preferential option for the poor. However, this preference doesn't mean I can or should have only one segment be responsible for the cost of government/personal well-being or absolve another from any and all obligations for said same.
The rich and poor alike should be able to retain a just percentage of the fruits of their labor and provide for the support of the common good.
Yes, I support progressive taxation but I also believe we are beyond what is just on the top end. I also think we ask too little of the good hardworking people of less means. They too should be expected to contribute to the support of their government.
The top 1% of Americans earn 18% of the national income yet pay 27% of the national taxes. The bottom 20% of Americans earn 4% of the national income and pay less than 1% of the national taxes.
The current fiasco with regard to Obama's policies is the biggest reason the poor have such a small percentage of the national income. If we got their unemployment rate up to the national average, they would get nearly an additional 2% of the national income.
So long as we continue to focus on funding the government more from the rich, we will continue to see especially the poor suffer from a lack of income. In my entire life, I have yet to have drawn a paycheck from someone who was poorer than me. We need to encourage and provide an environment for those richer to take risk, make investment and hire people.
While you might believe you are trying the protect the poor, all you are doing is making them more and more poor, more and more dependent, and more and more despondent.
He who labors diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor. (Menander)
My singular driving force to help the poor is to create opportunities for long-term employment. Penalizing the rich destroys opportunity.
It appears we are doing a good job of using language/jargon/arguments that get under each other's skin. I will try to chose language carefully.
Let's start with "Furthermore, everything in my personal, political, economic views are grounded with one over-riding principle: a preferential option for the poor."
From what I have seen on this forum, I will gladly stipulate, and this comment is without snark, that you are a more charitable and humane person than I am. I did not mean to imply that you are a callous individual.
I think it's fair to say we are both true believers. You believe the system works. I believe it's broken. When I read your Menander quotation, I wondered if I'm lying to myself about working hard and diligently because I sure as hell am despairing about getting to age 70 and having something left.
You referenced Obama's tax policies and proposals. First, the tax rates are lower now than they were under Regan or Clinton. I admit that I haven't read the details of his latest proposals carefully, but I don't think there headed back to the rates under Eisenhower or Carter or Reagan.
I really don't know who isn't paying their fair share. I hear that argument all the time. If the poverty rate for a family of 4 is $24,000, a South Dakota family will lose about $4,000 for federal taxes and 4% to 7% on everything they buy. I seriously don't know what more one wants from them. If they aren't paying anything, I wish I would have had access to their tax accountants when I was filling out my own taxes and living at that level. Quite frankly, a person making $1,000,000 and having $500,000 left after all taxes is in far better shape than the person earning $24,000 and having $24,000 left. That being said, I again will agree that everyone should pay something.
I will argue with your top 1% stat. A quick Google search
gave me the stat that the top 1% control 40% of the wealth. http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105
If the stat is accurate, and I have no reason to believe it is not, I stand behind my claim that I am not engaged in class warfare but class defense. It's tough to keep a middle class if 99% of the people are fighting to get 60% of the pie. Let's be honest, the next 19% probably have half of the remaining wealth. That leaves 30% of the wealth available for the bottom 70%.
Two points on the Luddite argument: First, in the past, technology did push jobs. That is not to say, however, that the displacement did not cause harm. We may be better off driving cars, but the buggy whip makers of the day did have some tough times. I firmly believe we need a social safety net to help people out when they are displaced.
Second, changing jobs from making wagon wheels to standing at an assembly line and putting tightening bolts is not the same as the demands now. The knowledge based economy demands, well let's be honest, knowledge. In the past, the tech advances were differences of degree. The new advances, I believe, are differences in kind. I'm not sure that the old patterns of people being able to catch up will hold.
As I'm typing this, it seems to be that we are a Baptist and a Catholic arguing about the Eucharist. We're willing to agree that a Jewish man living 2000 years ago died to save everyone from sin, but we're not going to agree about bread and wine, or in the Baptist case, grape juice. We going to see the same texts and the same facts and come to different conclusions.
(I'm deeply enjoying the exchange between Troy and LK. You two need to meet for lunch.)
Just a couple of comments:
Wealth and income are two different things. Alot of farmers are very rich because of the value of their land but don't make much money.
Innovation has short-term winners and short-term losers but as we have seen for thousands of years, technology ultimately makes everyone winners. The poorest today lives a better life than the richest a few hundred years ago. And innovation shifts the wealthy around.
Also, the reality is high earners aren't always high earners. A very dynamic economy will cause the rich to lose their money and the former poor to move up. If we always look at the static, we will claim someone is better off. Well, reality is someone is worse off. Let's just buckle down, quit fighting among ourselves, create more jobs for the poor and not worry about who has too much. The poor will never not be poor if they don't have a job.
Here is my frustration. Everyone who clamors for more government wants the tax increase to be on the "high earners." It is easy to clamor for more government and have someone else pay for it.
Wealth ≠ income? Sure, and we can devise a tax system that treats the two differently and recognize ability to pay. That's why South Dakota would do well to drop its property tax and replace it with an income tax.
High earners don't always stay high earners? Sure, and again, we can craft a sensible income tax that recognizes such dynamism. And again, South Dakota would treat taxpayers more fairly with an income tax than property tax.
And if high earners aren't always high earners, then we aren't really clamoring for someone else to pay for it, because any one of us might become high earners someday, right, Troy?
The job creators are not the sole epic heroes of our economy. The job doers deserve at least as much credit. And as Warren says, neither the job creators nor the job doers would make much headway without a properly funded government enforcing the social contract. As Eve notes, taxes are the price of admission to civil society and secure prosperity.
"As Eve notes, taxes are the price of admission to civil society and secure prosperity."
So Cory, why then do you believe most should not pay taxes by implementing an income tax that targets only the wealthy? Why shouldn't the price of admission apply to all?
It's been a long day, and I wasn't by the computer most of the day. I probably should let this thread die, but I did respond to one thing.
"Here is my frustration. Everyone who clamors for more government wants the tax increase to be on the â€œhigh earners.â€ It is easy to clamor for more government and have someone else pay for it."
My frustation is that anyone who points out the unfairness of the current system is labeled as a Marxist or class warrior who is trying to get out of paying is fair share and soak the rich. I'm not sure that I've ever called for more government. I just want government to make sure that those with the cash don't get rig the game against those who labor.
I honestly don't uinderstand the jobs argument when I hear that companies are sitting on record profits and cash reserves. If profits and capital produce jobs why is unemployment at 9 %?
Like I said, I probably should have just let it die.
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