Thursday, June 25, 2009
Part 2, gas tax digression
That quickly degraded into an argument about taxes in general, and from there fell further to a general condemnation of government.
Since it was the off topic message board anyway, I decided to weigh in:
(original, including what I am responding to, here: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/over-80-oppose-raising-gas-tax-8319-6.html)
Of course 80% oppose raising gas tax. Not because they think it won't work, but because they personally enjoy the luxury of driving an inefficient vehicle. It has nothing to do with the cost of a hybrid. Trucks vans and SUVs make up 1/2 of new car sales, and all of those buyers knew they were buying gas guzzlers. It would cost less money - not just in gas, but upfront - to buy a small (non hybrid) car.
|I am for the freedom of choices that we all have in this country. In my opinion, you cannot tell me what to do if I am not hurting anyone else.|
2 Buying a big car DOES hurt others. In addition to the fact that they do far more damage in an accident, there is this little thing called "global warming" (to be honest, I am not 100% convinced, but it is undeniable that burning fuel does environmental and health damage to all living things, including ourselves.)
|I oppose all taxes. period.|
Government pays for things which are not profitable, and which the free market could not provide, or which are essential and the free market could not provide equitably. Things like roads, harbors, airports, bridges, military, police, fire services, courts. How long do you think it would take for private security to turn into mercenaries? If you want to go back to living in teepees, maybe, but giving up government in the real world means who ever has the biggest gun and most friends gets to do whatever they want.
(because 50% of government spending goes to those programs).
1 the military (we spend literally as much as the rest of the world combined)
2 payments made to private health care companies (contracted medicare and health care for government employees)
3 interest on the debt.
(Social security is basically a mandatory savings account. You get back more than you pay into it. It isn't counted as part of the federal budget; although unfortunately in order to pay for massive budget deficits the government has been illegally "borrowing" from it which is why the fund is in trouble)
|A government that rewards the lazy (welfare for fat slobs with no intention of getting a job, and pumping out children they are teaching that lifestyle is okay)|
Even before Clinton's welfare to work program, the average welfare recipient received benefits for less than 2 years. Currently, after 2 years, if you don't get some job - any job - you get cut off, even if they are in college at the time. So it encourages people to get minimum wage jobs instead of actually bettering themselves and getting a job which might actually support their family.
Look up some data, and turn down the Rush morning show.
I wonder how many of the people who propose alternate taxation schemes have actually crunched the numbers (or consulted a reliable unbiased source).
I haven't, so I won't say they are all impossible, but they mostly sound like fantasy to me.
|to say that you are for higher gas prices means you are not for a free and open market, which requires the gasoline and other products to set their own prices, via supply and demand.|
Our over-sized military budget is what allows our gas prices to be artificially low (several times lower than what any other net importing nation pays).
If you want to cut taxes, instead of cutting social safety net programs which are a insignificant amount of the budget, start with reducing the military budget to no more than 10% more than the next highest spending country.
|military is what keeps the enemies that want what we have away.|
Next nationalize all health care. Believe it or not, most projections actually show the government would SAVE money by giving free health care to everyone. This is because, as it is health care is the governments 2nd highest expense, but much of that money goes to the shareholders of insurance companies, for-profit hospitals and drug companies, not to actually providing services to sick people.
Then balance the budget. This might mean *gasp* raising taxes! In the long run we have to pay for all those interest payments on our loans. It should go without saying that living on credit is unsustainable, but for decades conservatives have ignored that obvious truth by pretending that that "growth" would absorb the deficit. It didn't.
|Alright pal, why attack the wealthy? They are those that create wealth. Without wealthy people (not rich), there is no capital to create jobs and continue functioning as an effective entity on this planet.|
|Government has 0 provisions for interfering in the market, and Adam Smith would tell you you're always worse off when they do.|
"The pretense that corporations are necessary for better government of the trade is without any foundation. "
His argument against government was the EXACT OPPOSITE of modern libertarians. He was opposed to the corporation as something which interfered with the free market. To Smith the market consisted of INDIVIDUALS freely trading with one another, not companies, and certainly not corporations. He was opposed to government because of its tendency to protect and support corporations.
In the past 20 years GDP has grown steadily. Over that same period (accounting for inflation) median income has decreased. This disparity is because all of the increase has gone to a very small portion of society. The reason for the historic levels of inequality is a direct result of deregulation under our last 4 presidents, Regan and Jr. in particular.
Its the ideas that the wealthy must be more valuable to society and any increase in economic activity is inherently good which lead to the state we are in now.
The top 10% holds more wealth than the entire 90% added together.
Those 10% don't have to work, because they can invest instead.
The rich have not been working harder. US multinational corporations have just been able to consolidate and outsource at unprecedented levels.
This is the modern reality of the free market and deregulation.
It hurts American workers.
It hurts the middle and working classes (ie the vast majority of the population).
It hurts the federal budget.
It hurts 3rd world economies which are forced via predatory lending and threat of military action to open their markets.
It benefits one group, and one group only. Those who have the resources to live entirely off of stock dividends. They make us believe our interests coincide with their own by pointing out our 401k is in the stock market. However if not for their manipulation of the economy for their own benefit we could have higher wages and less inflation, less taxes and more stability.
Consider the Great Depression
Consider CA electricity market after deregulation (prices soared, service became terrible)
Consider the recent bank bail out
Ford likes to ***** about the costs of union benefits, but they paid their CEO $21 million in a year they did terribly, lost money, begged the government for help. Meanwhile Toyota, which is doing far better in every way, paid their CEO less that 1 million. Follow that trend for the assistant CEO, the CFO, the president of the company, the president of the board, the lead project manager, etc.
The reality speaks for itself. The trickle down theory does not work.
|...gas is an essential...|
Food, water, clean air, a place to live, shelter from weather extremes, these are necessities.
People in places with no cars survive.
Before cars were invented, people lived.
Cars are no more a necessity than cable TV.
This is a free country. Nobody forces you to live in the suburbs.
Actually, I lived in the suburbs for a year, in a place where it snowed all winter and rained all summer. I didn't have a car.
|For decades they've been preaching conservation, handing out rebates for "energy star" appliances and the like, and what has that gotten us? Double the household electricity use of 20 years ago?!?|
Its only fairly recently that utilities haven't been able to keep up with demand and environmental concerns made people rethink the idea that maximizing consumption is inherently good, and began trying to persuade people to conserve.
However, even "energy star" rated appliances consistently use far more power than we have the technology for. Consider how often a fridge has its hot coils on the bottom, where the heat will just rise back into it, instead of on top. They do it cause it looks nicer.
Even so, individual appliances have been getting more efficient, but Americans have been upsizing everything for for the past 20 years. The average new home size is more than twice what it was 30 years ago. That means twice the area to heat and cool and light. TVs are bigger, sound systems louder, computers many times faster. If the technology is 2 times as efficient, but everyone uses 4 times more of it, you double your energy demand. Just like with cars. Engine technology is far better than it was back then, but car companies and consumer choose to use 100% of those gains to make cars faster and larger.
|I promise you what will happen is states that have strict emissions and specialty registrations will see a sizable exodus to states that have no such policies|
|Still wanna trade?|
|(progressive taxes heavily burden the rich)|
If you tax someone with a $100,000 income 80%, he is left with $20,000
Even at that rate, the person with the high income is doing far better, and is "burdened" less.
And of course in the real world the higher tax brackets are stepped and only apply to the income above the threshold, not the entire amount, (so a 80% income tax would only be 80% of the money above some amount, say 90k - the first 10k would still be taxed at the 10% rate. In other words, he would keep much more than just 20k at that rate)
|Unless someone drives more than 100 miles a day every day changing vehicles in light of fuel expenses is never an economical decision|
This could take some time, but the idea is to look long term at the big picture. If we act only for the moment we will regret it tomorrow. Individuals and corporations often can't see beyond instant gratification, and that's (hopefully and in theory) one of the useful things that large scale organization (ie government) can do.
[key points of the response to the above are included in my next reply]
|the number one expenditure of government is welfare spending, which you failed to mention completely.|
If you choose to count SS as "welfare", maybe, but the benefits people get from it are directly proportional to what they paid in. Same goes for unemployment. If you don't work, you don't get social security or unemployment. These things are revolving funds which legally the government doesn't get to spend (although they do anyway). Part of the category of human services also includes education. Education is an investment that pays for itself by having an educated workforce. Veteran's benefits, which should properly be classified as military expense, are also lumped here.
Most of all, medical payments is counted under the same category, which I addressed earlier, and is by far the 2nd biggest sub-component after SS.
Yes, if you count all of those things as "welfare", then it adds up to more than the military.
But if you are looking only at direct AFDC payments to poor families, it is less than 1% of the budget.
If you have a source that says otherwise, please feel free to share it.
|Military spending only makes up 1/3 of all government spending. With the expenditures lately. . .its not even remotely close to 1/3.|
|Ford never asked for any money. You lose all credence when you post overt fallacies.|
Ford CEO on bailout opposition: Past is past - CNN.com
|Back to the top, you can throw all of those things the government provides away and allow for the private sector to pick them up. Bodyguards pick up where police forces are useless.|
What I said was, in the absence of law, body guard = mercenary. Whoever has money can buy guns and take what ever they want from those who can't afford a mercenary force. I'm not saying it is impossible, I'm saying that isn't a world any of us want to live in.
|Look at situations in which there is no military to speak of. Rich families in Mexico have their own para-military body guard service. They pack automatics body armor and bullet proof vehicles. They don't hold trials and they don't take prisoners.|
|A justice system that provides quick and immediate punishment to murders, thieves and what the CIA classifies as "abrasive" crimes or "assualt" crimes typically has fewer of them and it costs far less. I don't have to hold criminals in jail for months before trial feeding them and I don't have to put up with appeals and other issues. If someone breaks into my home there will not be a trial. I might have to go into a civil case with their surviving family but as I live in the south I know my local judges will throw it out and the appelate judges will also throw it out.|
|Adam Smith did not argue that the government was out to protect the poor from the rich. If you read your quote again he said that government is necessary to protect those who have(corporations) from those who dont(employees).|
|At Smiths time the East India Trading company were a racketeering organization that stole from honest traders by imposing their own taxes on their goods so that they wouldn't be attacked by privateers. Smith was against this practice.|
|He obviously was not against a corporation in and of itself because he had his own.|
I won't repeat all the points about how libertarians distort Smith's work, because someone has already done it for me:
The Betrayal of Adam Smith
SimpleUtahMormonPolitics.com: Adam Smith Hated Corporations
|Jacob do you honestly believe that taxing one person 80% is fair and one person 10%?|
|If you do I'm leaving Ecomodder. What you are saying is. . .because I work 2 full time jobs and 2 part time jobs I should only be allowed to have 2x as much as someone who works never and gets a welfare check? I put in 80 hours a week(2 full times) I mow for 6 hours a week and I work for a neighbor for about 5 hours a week. You are saying that some slackass that works 0 hours deserves the same amount of money I get when I work vastly more hours than he does(90 compared to 0 and he gets the same amount as me)?|
That's not what I am saying at all. First of all, someone who works 0 hours pays 0 taxes, no matter what the tax rate is. Someone who works 2 (or 4) jobs likely does not make that much per hour (or else why would they be working so much?) and so isn't going to be in a top tax braket no matter what.
What I am saying is NOONE earns a million dollars a year through working. It can't be done. You have to understand just how rich the rich are. There was a guy who owned a chain of casinos who made one million dollars an hour on average for a year. He didn't have to work. He added nothing of value to society. He didn't build the casinos. He didn't even pay to have most built, he bought them. So he didn't earn that money, which means he didn't "deserve" any of it. Bill Gates took open source (free) software, made a few minor changes, and patented it. He was not an innovator. He was a predatory businsess man who made exclusive deals with hardware manufacturers in order to form a monopoly. Now he pays other people to come up with (often inferior) software, and he gets to skim some of the profits. He is not creating jobs. If Microsoft weren't there, those same people would be working at smaller companies.
The market does not assign wages based on how valuable the work done is to society. Consider an ad company executive. The ad company has big clients which don't make the best or cheapest product, but have momnetum on their side. The ad companies job is to convince people to buy their products. This in no way betters society as a whole, but its valuable to the corporation that hired them. So they make big bucks. Meanwhile someone who does a job that actually creates something valuable, say the day laborer that builds a house, a auto plant assembly line guy, a public school teacher, makes a tiny fraction of what the ad guy makes.
Damn straight I think people who work hard for little pay should be taxed less than someone who makes their money on the stock market, or by being a landlord, or any other job where you make a lot of money without doing any actual work!
I think you should pay less taxes.
I think anyone who makes over 200k a year or has more than 2 million in assets should pay more taxes.
[several less relevant posts]
|I'm somewhat looking at it as likely as a small business owner.|
|The moment someone says they want 60% of my income I'm working to profit you not me and I'm going Galt to get under your tax bracket and I won't make a dime more.|
It a bit like people saying its not worth in to win a lottery because the government takes 2/3rds. That means you keep 1/3. Thats better than not having 1/3.
If you don't want to work anymore because you feel its too high a rate, fine. Why is that a problem?
|Our military is very streamlined as far as how it manages cost effectiveness.|
|And honestly do you want them cutting money from the system that protects you|
Our military budget is 5 times larger than the 2nd highest country in the world. We have nukes. We have unsurpassed technology. We are capable of doing more with a dollar of spending on military than any 2nd or 3rd world country (read China and the Middle East). I can see no justification for spending as much as the entire rest of the world combined unless we plan to literally invade every country in the world at the same time.
The military budget is about imperialism, diplomacy via unspoken threat, predatory free trade, and protecting corporate interests abroad. To tie this back to the original thread, the taxes you pay is what keeps our gas prices so low (again, US troops protecting pipelines in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
|or from the system that allows people to sit around and do nothing?|
|If a private sector had to make a road its like a nuclear power plant, its very expensive up front and it takes a good bit of time to pay for it, but after that its dirt cheap.|
No nuclear plant has ever been built that was not heavily government subsidized. Private industry will not go into something with such a high initial investment which takes such a long time to show any return. Why would they, when there are so many other more profitable opportunities? A corporation is not concerned with what happens in 400 years. It is concerned with the quarterly report and shareholder dividends.
|Social security is a ponzi scheme. Its not an investment. I have several relatives now drawing social and they are going to draw far more than they ever put in even with inflation and whatever else.|
|If you fired all the bureacrats, didn't pay all the politicians|
|and just made the tax code simple(and fired all IRS agents)|
|you would be taking one huge leap towards reducing deficits. If you then took another leap and cut any form of social safety net systems|
Places with more of a social safety net have lower crime.
|the private sector could do everything else more cheaply.|
|can make a profit much easier and are able to sell their products for less.|
|Some things in effect will cost the same whether its a tax or a toll, but I would bank on the service always being superior(go to a DMV).|
|In some cases though(maybe in alot of cases) the toll would be less than the tax and the service would still be superior.|
But I don't think money is the only issue.
The real reason government is necessary is the phenomenon called the "tragedy of the commons"
The classic example is a lake open to the public. It has 1000 fish. If everyone just takes 1 every once in a while, no problem. They breed and replenish. But how long is "once in a while?" How many people are there? What if I take 2, one for me and one for my family? No one person is responsible for taking an unreasonable amount, but sooner or later, there are no more fish.
The free market can not responsibly allocate a finite amount of resources in the long term w/ no external regulation. The free market leads to massive environmental degradation, massive wealth inequalities, and a disregard of the value of anything other than money.
Consider the formula from "fight club", for decideing whether to do a recall for a fatal design flaw:
"Take the number of vehicles in the field, (A), and multiply it by the probable rate of failure, (B), then multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, (C). A times B times C equals X...If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."
This is a real job. There is actually a specific dollar value attached to a human life (if I remember correctly, it is generally around 2 million)
I don't mean to say I support everything about the current US political system - not by a long shot.
I just think total deregulation and total trust in a market economy will make things worse than they already are.
[The response from the other guy]
You said why would anyone sell their goods for less(I'm not quoting because the quotes are getting long lol and I don't want to snip).
The reason is because I am greedy. I see you have a business that makes 40% on its product(you used to make 10% and now with lower taxes you make an extra whatever percent), but I have a crappy job. I take out a loan get some investors and start a business model doing exactly what you do, but I sell mine for 75% of what you do so I make only 30% profit per item. All of your customer switch suppliers because I am cheaper. You undercut me and this continues until someone like walmart shows up and sells the product for .01% profit but sells trillions of items. Thats Free market.
And it is beautiful. If there is enough money to be had the single greatest force in human innovation and production comes to play. Greed. Beyond a shadow of a doubt its the most powerful force on the planet. Its predictable and powerful.
If there is enough room to make a profit better than what I am doing now I will do it. So if that means undercutting my competitors because my business just became cheaper to do and driving all their customers into my queue well then thats what I am going to do.
It is natural selection at work. The leanest most efficient wolf will be the one to survive. The bloated fat pig will be the first one eaten, because its too slow, inefficient and has too much excess weight to rapidly restructure its survival patterns.
If you believe in evolution you have to believe in a free market. Yes there will be "robber barons"(I prefer Captains of Industry) but there will always be some clever little fellow(Aptera vs GMC) who can outmaneuver you because he's not carrying baggage and your profit margins got wide enough for him to squeeze in between you and the customers. It might not be a big profit compared to your business. . .but what matters is, is it more profit than he had working for someone else or running a competition with some other industry.
Every other country in the world has universal health care. Ask someone who lived in a Foreign country if they like it. I have family(in-laws) that lived and grew up in Italy. He moved here married into my family and loves Healthcare in the US depsite the fact it comes out of his paycheck. Thats my anecdotal evidence, and I've seen a few interviews with Canadians that much prefer US healthcare. I'm sure people will speak out about it, but all I can say is I have been to a French Hospital(friend got hit by a car while in Paris) and it wasn't impressive by any means. It was far less technical than a visit to MSHA(Mountain States Health Alliance, Johnson City's Hospital) or my own personal experiences with surgery here in the US.
Looking at the fight club example. . .there is always a cost of human life. Free Market systems just tell it like it is. They don't try and hide it behind systems to make everyone feel comfortable with it. Free Market is about market value. I know you will agree with me that each person has a value. If you don't think everyone puts a value on anyone else think about it this way. You have a sniper and terrorists plan to kill some hostages. Your sniper has to chose which terrorist to kill first, the terrorist with his gun pointed at 10 civilians or the one pointed at 1 civilian. After the first shot there are no guarantees the other can be killed before he fires on his targets. Obviously you shoot the terrorist guarding the 10 people because 10 people are more important than one. If you have one person in the hospital and it will cost 10 mil to make them completely healthy and live to die of old age and you have 10 people that only need 1 million each. . .what do you do? Free Market dictates you spend 10 mil and save 10 people. Universal healthcare by definition(provide the aide people need) you spend money on whoever gets there first. So 10 mil boy gets there and the other 10 people die while waiting for the funds to do their transplants.
Market Value is true blue transparence. We don't like to admit that we would just assign a value to someone's life because that seems shallow. . .but we do. A doctor who is capable of saving lives through medicine or a painter? You have to chose. Market value and Free economy dictates you save the doctor because directly he can save more lives than the painter(assuming he's not a superhero). In anything less than a Free market there is no justification to rescue someone who is dying already rather than a teenager or some young doctor.
In all honesty there are more valuable people than others. Bill Gates has done more for the human race than I have. Bill Gates simply put if I had to chose between which of us existed. . .I would have to chose him. I won't revolutionize the world. You can play "if" history all you like and say that Bill Gates didn't do anything but we don't know, we do know that since he did what he did we arrived here today, whether its his fault we can't say. Free Markets require comfort with perfect honesty, what is something worth to you, what are you willing to do for it?
I prefer completely deregulated Free market because it allows true honesty in market value rather than fixing a price because you feel that some moral induced idea that that product is bad(sin taxes on cigarettes and gas). The product is worth what people will pay for it no more no less, whereas in regulated systems. . .its what you say its worth and who dictates who choses values? what if I get to pick? What if I say you're favorite brand of soda is an unneccesary good because its harmful and got bad flavor(Gas is harmful and not the most efficient mode of transport).
The WalMart model is beautiful - unless you are one of the local business run under, or one of their employees who now has to take a minimum wage WalMart job, or one of the people who used to supply the local business who is undercut by outsourcing, or the worker in a 3rd world country making 1/2 a cent per hour. What you save as a consumer you lose through repressed wages.
The only people its really beautiful for are the WalMart shareholders.
Your examples of choosing 10 peoples lives over 1 has nothing to do with my example of choosing profit over people's lives.
I disagree that it is ok to knowingly cause the death of anyone because you can make money from it - any amount of money.
Thats not about honesty. Its just a basic level of morality.
You did read my comments about Gates, right? I wasn't making that stuff up. Look it up. You still think he is more valuable than you?
It isn't just an arbitrary application of morality, but a question of democracy. If the market decides everything, than the more money you have (and as someone - I think it was you - pointed out earlier, the very richest often got their money from inheritance) the more influence you have over society.
That is already too true as it is.
Basically, the real result would be a return to serfdom, with the working class (ie you and me) being reduced to peasants.
I said an awful lot you didn't address to claim that I "hung myself" with an argument.
Explain how the market can resolve the tragedy of the commons.
[He responds again, basically acknowledging his view is amoral, but that this is the cold hard reality of the world. He expresses faith that the market can solve the tragedy of the commons - that in fact someone can get rich from the threat of environmental destruction itself, but does not offer an explanation of how that might happen. At this point, given that his comments seem to me to be mainly based on faith, I did not continue responding to the specific points, but after having a dream the next morning in which I came up with a very suitable analogy, I closed with the following]
|the single greatest force in human innovation and production comes to play. Greed.|
Part 1: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2013/03/capitalists-libertarians-and-anarchists.html
Part 2: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2013/03/part-2-gas-tax-digression.html
Part 3: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-last-one-anarchists-this-time.html