Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

How would socialism work in America?

My entry for troll of the month... ;)

There have been a very large number of threads on this board lately about how America sucks because it does not have a large social system (universal health care, guaranteed housing and food). One side says "dont take our taxes to help the lazy!" and the other side says "you are cold hearted and stupid if you dont help the poor!". Fine. I will grant you that social systems seem to basically be working well in Scandinavia, the people are healthy and live good lives. Sure Sweden isn't the biggest industrial superpower, but they are doing as well as most people would need. Unfortunately I personally think the problem with the assumption that "it works in Sweden, so it should work in America" is wrong.

If you've ever lived in a condo where utilities are shared, you know that given the opportunity, Americans will take rather then give. Most people will run their AC at 50 degrees, most people will keep windows open in the winter etc. Most people I've known on disability are in no rush to get off it. Americans have record low savings, and think of credit cards as "emergency savings". When given a safety net, Americans will choose to have no backup plan. When given a second income from a spouse, most americans will choose to buy a BMW and a bigger house, rather then live under their means. If you've witnessed the rioting that has occured at various times in our history, and look at the way people treat public housing, you know some Americans don't care about the welfare of their community, nor take pride in their property.  You've seen our waistlines, we are just plain lazier as a country.

These are the reasons I don't believe a social system would work well in our country. When given such a system, what keeps someone from living off it indefinitely? What motivates people? While life can be rough, is necessity not the mother of invention? If everyone was given free education, would everyone take advantage of it? If not, are those who chose to have less skills rewarded or penalized?  Just my two cents, I feel like while a social system would certainly help the poor live healthier happier lives, and that is a good thing, i'm not convinced that given that, they will suddently pick themselves off their feet and become CEOs. I think our culture here would simply lead more people to choose the easy route, have even less savings, cost everyone else a whole lot more and become even less competitive as a nation. We assume we can simply milk the rich and give to the poor indefinitely, but what if we started levying 60% taxes on them? What would keep them from simply moving to another country? Out of the top 500 richest people in the world, only 5 live in Sweden, and 4 of those got their wealth from their family businesses that were started in pre-socialist times. The notable 5th person, the founder of Ikea, chooses to live in Switzerland, presumably because his money is better protected.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Well, Phil, you may not have noticed, but you basically ARE living in a Democracy with quite a few Socialist elements. So to claim you don't know what socialism looks like in America is to demonstrate your blindness.

Social Security provides a safety net. It is funded by the Government. It has been opposed on philosophical grounds ("It's Socialism!") by conservatives ever since it was put in place.

I would assert that Social Security is one of the reasons this country has not had a major depression since 1929. While people know Social Security may support a low standard of living, it does support living.

This is part not of the "Liberal" or "Conservative" agenda, but the "Progressive" agenda. Government should do as little as necessary, but it should maintain a safety net. The free market requires regulation to prevent Trusts and Monopolies.

I'd point out that the military runs on a Government Supported model, also. It's funded by the Government. But there's no voting, perhaps it's a dictatorship from the top Generals. The only reason that our Military has not taken over like some South American countries is that we do have the 'checks and balances' in place on government power.

Short answer: what you see in America now IS what Socialism looks like in America. Now, if only we can keep the conservatives from destroying it in search of Capitalist Purity.
Permalink AllanL5 
January 5th, 2006
Oh yes, it won't work. :) That's the thing about it.

One explanation is that such a system does not scale. It requires a general consensus and the resolve to not be complete jerks; this is achievable when both the responsibility and the benefits are clear. Sweden has a population approximately equal to that of NYC. Two hundred and fifty million people cannot be a community.

The other possible factor is the fact that Americans haven't been scared enough. In the history of the country, there is only one major event which saw the government adopt socialist techniques - the Great Depression. The system actually worked back then.

Europeans have a great national memory of wars (see http://antyx.blogspot.com/2006/01/war-peace.html) and crises. The everpresent possibility of economic crashes, disease, famine, all-out destruction is ingrained in our collective consciousness. This is the ghost of Christmas future that tells us it's better to work together, and if are too selfish, it will come back and bite you in the ass.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
Allan, I'm not sure what you're getting at, I never said we don't have some socialist elements in America, but clearly you and others have argued that we need much much more. I'm simply saying we as a country cannot move to that Sweden level and expect the same results. Even with the crappy social elements we do have there are people who are stuck on the welfare system forever.

Also, yes Social Security is there, but it is entirely based off of two presumptions that are false and/or are becoming more false. 1) That most Americans will not ever get to use it (MOST people did not live until 65 when it was established, let alone until 100), 2) it also assumes a growing population, not a declining one. We are barely at repopulation levels of birth rates (2.1), and only growing thanks to immigration, unfortunately a large amount of those immigrating are not paying into social security.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
The population of the UK is around 60 million about a quarter that of the US, I'd say liberal social policies scaled fairly well.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 5th, 2006
The short answer is it would require a structural change, rather than a change in the amount of money spent. As it is your public health spending is higher than ours*.

Now you are right in one way - high marginal tax rates have a detrimental effect, but it appears from outside that vast amounts of money are spent for purely political reasons and that insanely petty savings are made which have little or no benefit and make people miserable for the sake of it*.

Certainly it's been found here that spending relatively small amounts of money intelligently in making places nice - saves large amounts in maintenance and policing. Perhaps a little less pork-barrel politics would be enough...

*http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/hea_hea_car_fun_pub_per_cap
** I'm thinking here of the TV depictions of public housing apartments where every wall appears to be of unplastered concrete (is a plaster skim so expensive?).
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
"The only reason that our Military has not taken over like some South American countries is that we do have the 'checks and balances' in place on government power."

Hm. If you drive a Bradley up to the courthouse, I don't think the judges will be able to do much about it. ;)
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
Here's an ancillary question:

If additional drag (taxes) are applied to the American economy and buying power of individuals and corporations decrease, what does that do for the other economies of the world?
Permalink KC 
January 5th, 2006
Why do you think additional taxes are required?
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 5th, 2006
mmm...the trouble with coups is you have to be convinced that you won't end up done for treason if you lose and/or return power to civilian hands.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
Phil,

I've never seen any evidence that Americans are 'plain lazier' or more selfish or less likely to get off welfare than any other nationality.

Believe it or not, you also get people in Sweden who will subsist off welfare forever. Few, but some.

The difference is, in America, there are EXTREMELY powerful and well funded groups which have the agenda of keeping welfare down (and would like to see it eradicated altogether). They're kept in check by Democracy. Believe it or not, welfare is pretty much the most popular government program that has ever existed.

This doesn't stop them from releasing a torrent of propaganda to fight against welfare and other social policies. This often takes the form of "it won't work" and co-opts nationalistic tendencies - one of the most successful propaganda techniques. Whether or not it WILL work is of little relevance to them, since welfare doesn't benefit them at all.
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 5th, 2006
KC - see the link - you already spend more on *public* health per head than we do. I know it's counterintuative - that is why I posted the link.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
Granted our governemnt takes slightly more in tax:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/tax_tot_tax_as_of_gdp

but not for the avarage person:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/tax_tot_tax_wed_sin_wor
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
Simon, additional taxes will be required because there exist almost no politicians with the balls to cut programs. If someone ran for office in West Virginia looking to cut back on all the subsidies and pork they get, they would never win.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
"I've never seen any evidence that Americans are 'plain lazier' or more selfish or less likely to get off welfare than any other nationality."

I would disagree with you, i'm not sure how much time you've spent in our country, but my step mom who came over from Croatia with no biases and thinking we were all hard working is convinced that most people here are lazy assholes now.  The effects of reconstruction hundreds of years ago in the south, and the effects of slavery and ghettoization in the 50s are just a few of the things that still give us problems today that are somewhat unique to our country.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
"Believe it or not, welfare is pretty much the most popular government program that has ever existed"

To some degree. There have been a lot of abuses as well, and many detractors with valid points against the system.

I do want to throw out the statistic that when the welfare reform wave swept through the country in the early 90's, the pro-welfare groups claimed we would have "homeless dying in the streets." Needless to say, that didn't happen, and when the reform changes kicked in, unemployment dropped. (could be correlative instead of causative, but there's no way to tell)

I believe in welfare to help those who fall upon hard times or are unable to provide for themselves. I'm also in favor of having a very flexible system, because every situation is different, and I believe in heavy auditing to identify abuses of the system. Of course, I also think welfare belongs at the state level (where it is today, for the most part)

And as I've pointed out elsewhere, I'm a strong believer in vocational programs and putting the money into helping people get jobs, as well as addressing other areas to encourage hiring the unemployed, apprenticeship programs, moving jobs into depressed areas, etc, etc.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
Phil - I'm sure that sentiment was every bit as popular in Britain in the 70s. Then Ms Thatcher came along, and stayed in power for three terms. :)
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
Yes...

What you would need is someone campaigning on a platform of ending subsidies to the wealthy (which is how pork could be presented) as well as bringing in the social programmes. *If* you could do so then once up and running I think they would work. As far as health is concerned you spend the money already. However the transition would require so much change that without major changes in political outlook I don't think it's a runner.

Is it possible - yes. Is it likely - no.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
Well, there are many arguments against socialism which I think are cogent, and should be rationally discussed. Even any scientific theory will have issues -- just as with classical mechanics, we change our view of the world as we seek holes.

On the points you raise, here is what I personally understand of decentralized democratic socialisms:


* Production

American and Enlightenment thinkers have spoken much about humanity's desire to produce. We create not only to take care of human needs, but for greater artistic and scientific exploration. In any society, there will be drudgework (though it may be minimized with tech).

Many socialists believe this work should be spread roughly equally, a mixture of drudgework and intellectual work. In particular, Parecon explains that empowering decisionmaking work must not be monopolized, otherwise bureaucrats will gain power.

So a system like Parecon's goal is to bust the monopolization of property (capitalism) and decisionmaking (Leninism/Marxism).


* American laziness/bozonity

Well first off, I have to repeat that US citizens are among the hardest working in the developed world. In 2004 the Census Bureau explained we commute more than vacation.

Anyway, many socialists partially attribute our problems to the PR industry, which teaches most of us almost since birth that the way to happiness is through consumption -- gluttony. Not to be active citizens, not to demand much from our productive lives, but in our consumptive lives.

(In fact, well-known American pragmatist John Dewey explained that drudgework and externally imposed demands perverts human desire for play into gambling, drink, etc.)

This BBC documentary talks about modern PR industry, starting with Freud's nephew Bernays, then through the 60's counterrevolution, and the corporate coopting of individualism. (Chomsky.info also has some readable sources...)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/century_of_the_self.shtml


* Americans don't care about our surroundings

One issue is that capitalism has a built-in bias against the environment and societal goods. Because pure market transactions generally only represent buyers and sellers.. and so both have the incentive to push off costs on others. Further, societal goods (like free software) are penalized despite high demand, due to the free rider problem. That's why Microsoft must ask the government to stop people from copying the infinitely copyable.

Now, the wealthy (like anyone) do like to live in pristine neighborhoods -- but what about their factories and workers' neighborhoods? Which group has more political power to compel the government to maintain parks and infrastructure?


* Welfare = no work

Investing in one's citizens tends to help competitiveness. Corporate welfare and protectionism is a prime example. In fact, Andy Grove explained that "aggressive" government intervention saved our semiconductor industry.
http://www.forbes.com/2003/10/10/1010grovepinnacor.html


* Capitalism and the fear motivation

As practiced in many countries, the dual motivations of capitalism appear to be greed and fear. Removing the fear motivation will probably decrease the bargaining power of some given wealthy elite. But I don't think it implies a shift in economic systems. Just a shift in economic intervention priorities.


* Rich fleeing the US

I expect many socialists would be overjoyed by this prospect. Just as many in other nations would be glad to get rid of their aristocracies and royal sympathizers.


--
Anyway I'm typing this quickly, so cya.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
Socialism won't work here until people lose their "every man for himself" attitude. I agree with the OP that most Americans are lazy, self-centered, and spend every penny they have rather than save.

Personally I would be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant that everyone here had health insurance and access to housing and higher education. The Scandanavians and to some extent many other European countries have the right idea. Better everyone should live comfortably than some live very well and others live in poverty.

But I'm a commie pinko dyke, so what do I know?
Permalink Dana 
January 5th, 2006
"How would socialism work in America?"


I guess we'll find out when the
"Can't-Think For-Or-Help-Themselves" defeat Condi and put the Hildabeast in office.
Permalink Yo! 
January 5th, 2006
Oh also look up "endogenous preferences" -- the things you consume tend to change your preferences (you start to like bad sitcoms, etc), so if your econ system is biased against societal goods, that may shift your economic preferences...
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
It seems to work well for defense, energy, farming, and drugs.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"* Rich fleeing the US

I expect many socialists would be overjoyed by this prospect. Just as many in other nations would be glad to get rid of their aristocracies and royal sympathizers."

It's happened before in many other countries... and then who gets taxed?
Permalink KC 
January 5th, 2006
"Better everyone should live comfortably than some live very well and others live in poverty."

Anyone who feels that way and makes over $30k can start by making large cash donations to local charities.

The median family income in the country is $30k/year, so if you make more than that, you're part of the "very well"

(Dana, apologies if you're already doing your part - I just find that a lot of people who talk about "tax the rich until they bleed" generally mean "people richer than me") I'm also pointing out you don't have to wait for the government to take the money - you're always free to donate to the local shelter...

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
Since the rich folks rarely pull their own weight, overal federal expendatures would drop if "the rich ran away."
Permalink Peter 
January 5th, 2006
"I just find that a lot of people who talk about "tax the rich until they bleed" generally mean "people richer than me""

True. Some years back I was talking to an old classmate - she was an active member of a major political party here. Their election platform at the time was that of progressive income tax. They actually circulated little circles to calculate the increase or decrease based on your current salary.

Their plan was worse for people who earned more than 3x the national average at the time. I said to her that I could not vote for their party because I expected to earn more than that before I die. Apparently enough people felt the same way, because they lost.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
"Since the rich folks rarely pull their own weight, overal federal expendatures would drop if "the rich ran away." "

The top 5% of earners in the country pay over 50% of federal income tax revenues. The top 10% pay 65%.

Care to rethink that idea?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
> Care to rethink that idea?

Yet the services they pay for cost considerably more. And they are the biggest winners for services like hedgemony.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
Boo hoo.

A dude making 10 million a year can shed 7 or 8 million in taxes and still live high on the hog.

Let me go get a thimble to keep my tears in.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
"A dude making 10 million a year can shed 7 or 8 million in taxes and still live high on the hog. "

Thats true, but it certainly doesn't seem very fair.  Why would a person even try to make that extra 7 million?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Muppet, the point was about the rich leaving the country. If the top 5% wealthiest people left the country, we'd lose 50% of federal income revenues, which everyone else would then have to make up.

Then you *will* be crying.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
So says the quick google genie...

In 2001, the top 1% owned 33% of the nation's wealth.
http://faireconomy.org/research/wealth_charts.html

Perhaps 5 years of the Bush administration magnified that.

Speaking of federal tax, the wealthy have been making gains at the expense of everyone else:
http://www.urban.org/publications/1000849.html


"If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning... Corporations are doing better in the total tax picture than the people I'm going to walk by on the street when I leave here."
-- Warren Buffett
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
So Tayssir and Mark, I trust if your Google stock options were suddenly vested tommorow and you were worth $10 mil, you would have no problem giving away 70% of that to everyone else?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Heh. I love when lottery winners find out that they only get 50% of the winnings - the other 50% go to taxes. Another example of "instant tax reformer"

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
I dunno if it's a European thing or a local thing, but here the lottery winners don't pay tax. They have to by law, but the lottery company pays it for them. The advertised number is what they get.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
Actually I'd have absolutely no trouble giving half my lottery winnings to taxes. It's found money anyway.

Phil,

I honestly and sincerely believe with very strong conviction that if I ever suddenly had 10 million dollars, I'd be very likely to give away 60-70% of it to charities and the like. I'd feel supremely guilty keeping that much money for myself.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
> Heh. I love when lottery winners find out that
> they only get 50% of the winnings - the other 50%
> go to taxes

I've paid more than my share of AMT and it didn't bother me. What bothers me fiscal irresponsibility. And that's what we have. The government is spending more so taxes should be higher.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"I'd feel supremely guilty keeping that much money for myself."

Why?
Permalink Flasher T 
January 5th, 2006
"Why?"

Because what the hell would I need ten million dollars for?
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
"Because what the hell would I need ten million dollars for?"

Maybe so your family for the next 2 or 3 generations will not have to worry about education and housing? So you wont have to worry if your job fires you?  So you can decide to give the money to your favorite charity?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
I can not worry about job security with 2 or 3 million. If I invest, maybe I can leave behind a trust fund for my daughter, but maybe not. So what? She's a smart girl and she'll earn her own way, the same as I did.

I don't believe in inheritance. It ultimately breeds aristocracy and there's nothing positive about that.

My family on the patriarchal side is loaded and I've never, nor will I ever, see a dime of it. Doesn't faze me a bit.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
> Maybe so your family for the next 2 or 3 generations
> will not have to worry about education and housing?

From a global optimization perspective what you end up with are lazy do nothing children who accomplish nothing. Giving people a life of ease reduces progress.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"Giving people a life of ease reduces progress."

So are you then arguing against a social welfare system where food and housing are guaranteed?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Food and shelter hardly create a life of ease in and of themselves.

Phil give it a fucking rest. All you do is jump from strawman to strawman. When are you actually going to DEBATE?

I don't think you know how.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
"So Tayssir and Mark, I trust if your Google stock options were suddenly vested tommorow and you were worth $10 mil, you would have no problem giving away 70% of that to everyone else?"

Cute debate tactic. The nice thing about highschool policy debate is that people didn't engage in ad hominems and personal gambits -- because no one cares. People want to exchange serious information that they care about.

There are numerous ways to be an active citizen, in ways which suit your interests and willingness to commit time. With wealth some options are more possible. But oftentimes, many try to tell you that your best participation is to give to some generic "charity," and presumably keep your nose out of democratic action.

In reality, one's choices are tactical. Not the narrow range that some guy on a forum wishes them to be. Maybe giving money to someone else is best, maybe it's not. Up to you to decide.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
Whatever Mark, I just doubt this "oh i don't need money, i'd just give it all to the poor" while everyone in your family owns their own computer, you have LCDs, a MAME etc... I think you would find plenty of ways to spend $3 mil quickly over your lifetime, and when its gone that extra $7 mil would go a long ways (not to mention accounting for bad investments and inflation).

Guaranteed food and shelter is a life of ease Mark. Unless your proposing that when we give these we give a substandard version of each to encourage people to work harder and get fancy things.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> So are you then arguing against a social welfare
> system where food and housing are guaranteed?

I am not arguing against giving people a minimum for food and health care. But that's far from giving people a surplus.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
Cute debate tactic yourself Tayssir, not answering the question. This isn't a high school debate, its a bloody internet discussion.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> Guaranteed food and shelter is a life of ease Mark.

I don't see most people rushing out to jail or the military for this life of ease. It must not be that easy.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
More strawmen, Peter. I have a few things, but my total net worth is probably under $10K (since I've no equity in the house yet).

I didn't say that I didn't need money (but of course, you know that), I said that I don't need an exorbitant amount of money like ten million.

Grow up. Then maybe we can have a discussion.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
I answered your question in great detail. Twice on this thread in fact. Even though your last was a drive-by hypothetical.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
And I think highschool debate team sucks -- but it somehow keeps to a higher standard than some tactics I'm seeing. I'm not interested in "debate." I'm perfectly glad to exchange information on the flaws/benefits of socialism, if I happen to know something.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
January 5th, 2006
"I don't see most people rushing out to jail or the military for this life of ease. It must not be that easy."

Yeah thats a great comparison SOP, cuz those two things would really be EXACTLY like free shelter and food...oh wait except that both of those take away your freedom, involve potential death and forced labor.  Common, give me something better here.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Why, Phil? You don't bother with anything but half-assed, toss off strawmen. Why do you expect a higher quality of discussion from everyone else?
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
And also a decent amount of people DO join the military for the free food, shelter, and education.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> Common, give me something better here.

There is nothing better for you. You are fine with running deficits to give money to the people who are benifitting the most from the deficits. Yet you begrudge people getting a minimum standard of living, the same people that make it possible for the top .1% to live.

Your ideal world is one in which people fight to make the most money by corrupting the government. That is today. But that way is old history.

New history is a bit more rational than that. And yes you pay a less than ideal amount of taxes because people are so greedy, incompetent, and corrupt, but you work with what you got, not with what you want.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
See I just dont see it that way SOP, just because one wants to keep more of their money they earned doesn't make them evil. Lets say I'm one of the google guys. I earned the $1 billion i cashed out in stocks this year, I took risks and invented something that was worth that amount to the market. I use no more public services then the poorest person, in fact I use less, but I would have paid $300 million in taxes, while you, joe average have paid $10000 or so. No, no one NEEDs a vast amount of money like that. But how is it fair for you to decide how much of ones own money they can keep? Does anyone NEED $100k a year? What about 80k? I am against corruption and coporate subsidies, I am against wasteful government spending. I'm not sure why you all have to assume that letting rich people keep their fair share of the money automatically equals everyone else getting screwed. If you want to make more money, go ahead and make it, no one is stopping you from being rich as well.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
So what's your argument then, Phil? Is it that the google guy should only pay $10K in taxes if that's what the average wage earner is paying? Give me a break.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
Did I say that Mark? But I dont think its fair to take $970 million of his dollars so that he only makes as much as joe blow either.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> See I just dont see it that way SOP, just because
> one wants to keep more of their money they earned
> doesn't make them evil.

It does when your government is spending more than you are contributing. It does when you are getting rich off the deficits that other people will be required to pay for.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"It does when your government is spending more than you are contributing. "

But its not like the government is having a hard time providing the basic services governments provide. Once we eliminate all waste, porkbarrelling, military rediculousness etc, then if the gov doesnt have enough money, sure, raise taxes. The reason our country is in debt isn't because of building roads and providing an education.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
Phil -

Who's arguing that we should tax him down to the average? That'd be foolish. No one would innovate. Everybody would be a file clerk.

I'd be happy with a flat tax and no loopholes, tax shelters, or breaks.

No deductions. No head of household. No marriage penalty, etc etc etc.

Just a flat fucking income tax. Say 20%.

If that puts us further in a deficit, then we better tighten shit up and start getting corrupt politicians the fuck out of office. The only reason our system is so fucking broken is that the average citizen doesn't give a SHIT about civics.

Once again, we come down to education being the root problem. :)
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
Cool, i'm down with that idea Mark... i just got the impression you were proposing taking all the money they didn't need. I'm definitely for eliminating any special breaks for the rich.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> Maybe so your family for the next 2 or 3 generations
> will not have to worry about education and housing?
Yeah, just what we need is another generation of Paris Hiltons.
Permalink Peter 
January 5th, 2006
> But its not like the government is having a hard
> time providing the basic services governments provide.

This has nothing to do with anything. It's what goes in and what goes out that matters. Hard numbers.

> Once we eliminate all waste, porkbarrelling,
> military rediculousness etc

Until then people must be responsible and pay for their own mistakes. Making future generations pay for your weakness is evil.

> The reason our country is in debt isn't because of
> building roads and providing an education.

It doesn't matter why. It matters what we are doing. And it doesn't give you an excuse to be immoral.

You remind of a child who thinks it's ok to break the law because life is unfair.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
I can't imagine that I'd be working as hard to build wealth if I couldn't leave it to my kids. My parents right now are doing well off money they've saved, but I know for a fact that my dad's driving impulse was to provide a legacy for me.

I think this is something of an abuse of psychology, just as tax withholding is. Withholding income tax from paychecks isn't about "easier collection" - it preys on the psychology that "if you don't get the money, you never miss it." (Many investment and credit advisors leverage this by suggesting direct deposit allotments to savings accounts)

Leaving to your kids works the same way - if it's about taking care of your own retirement, then the average person will spend down to the wire. But when it's about making sure there's something in the will for your kids, people get somewhat more conservative about savings. The net result is often that that savings then provides for the parents in their retirement and the kids are fine on their own...

So file inheritance under "convenient fiction" [grin]

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
> I can't imagine that I'd be working as hard to
> build wealth if I couldn't leave it to my kids.

Then you are wasting your time. Inheritance mattered when people died yound. Now your kids will likely be old by the time you die. You'll be giving them money at the time they probably don't need if they lead the productive life I am sure you encourage.

And any kids worth their salt wouldn't take handouts from daddy once they grow up.

So you should live your life for you, not for building wealth for your kids.

> Withholding income tax from paychecks isn't
> about "easier collection" - it preys on the
> psychology that "if you don't get the money,
> you never miss it."

If you are stupid enough to think that way then does it really matter?
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"And any kids worth their salt wouldn't take handouts from daddy once they grow up."

Right because good, solid, hardworking people never run into trouble.

Dumb statement.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 5th, 2006
>>"And any kids worth their salt wouldn't take handouts from daddy once they grow up."

A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

HA.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 5th, 2006
You could always leave it to your grandchildren...he says stating the blindingly obvious one more time.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
January 5th, 2006
"If you are stupid enough to think that way then does it really matter?"

Quick question - what do you think would happen if paycheck withholding was eliminated? Granted there would be collection issues, but do you think that all those with a liberal bent would happily write a check to the IRS every month for the proper amount? (Obviously the conservatives would continue bitching like we always do)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
Hey I agree that I appreciate not getting a hand out from my parents (as in no inheritance or help whatsoever), but half the reason i work so hard is that I don't want my kids to have to work as hard as I did. I would much rather see my son and daughter grow up to be pampered rich kids who get to enjoy traveling and college then have to work 80 hours a week. I think teaching kids responsibility is all well and good but I don't understand why you think inheritance is so evil?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> Right because good, solid, hardworking people
> never run into trouble.

So daddy should accumulate wealth on the chance that one of his kids will get in enough trouble that he would bail them out?

> but do you think that all those with a liberal bent
> would happily write a check to the IRS every month
> for the proper amount?

You mean like property tax? You mean like state income tax? You mean like federal income tax?

No, certainly nobody would do that.

> but half the reason i work so hard is that
> I don't want my kids to have to work as hard as I did.

Give them an education. Help the with a car. Maybe a down payment for a house. Much more and they will turn into spoiled little do nothings.

If you really care about your kids you'll want them to become better people. Better people are not produced by having nothing to strive for.

> (Obviously the conservatives would continue bitching
> like we always do)

Bitch and spend. The self-loathing must be immense.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"> but do you think that all those with a liberal bent
> would happily write a check to the IRS every month
> for the proper amount?

You mean like property tax? You mean like state income tax? You mean like federal income tax?"

I dunno about you, SOP, but this stuff is all automatically deducted from my paycheck or automatically added to the escrow of my mortgage. Philo's point is that if you received a paycheck for $2,000 and had to write a check back for $1,000 every single time you got paid, you may start to appreciate how much is taxed, instead of just getting a check for $1k. I'm sure you'll say otherwise, but I know my eyes usually bug out when I see how much of my salary goes to taxes.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
"> (Obviously the conservatives would continue bitching
> like we always do)

Bitch and spend. The self-loathing must be immense."

Please don't confuse "conservative" with "Republican"

Thank you.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
> Please don't confuse "conservative" with "Republican"

Own what you elected.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
I know its a little while ago, but it seems you agree Phil that no new taxes would be necessary to provide a decent social welfare, education and health system. Your point is that because of all these other programs (which are in lieu of a decent system and only necessary because a decent system doesn't exist), would have to be cut no one would agree to it.

That is arrant nonsense.

There is only one reason the US doesn't have a decent system its that it believes sharing wealth equitably is stealing from them personally even if the amount taken is no more and may be less than is currently taken in taxes. The corollary to that is that regular American opinion is that social programmes reduce an individual's choice but this is forgetting that virtually no one has an open ended choice. You may aspire to be as wealthy as Bill Gates but it is not reasonable to live one's life that way.

There are no economic hurdles to doing it properly, the only hurdles are an insufficiently educated populace and a lack of solidarity amongst the general population.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 5th, 2006
Well you are right Simon, part of me does not believe in giving able bodied people a free meal ticket. But if we really could provide universal health care and housing without any additional taxes, or cutting spending on infrastructure, at least I personally would be ok with it. I believe most Americans would be for it too. I think you are agreeing that my original point is valid. I wasn't saying its impossible to do, I'm saying Americans do not have the right attitude to make it work.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
"Own what you elected."

Hey, *I* voted for the OTHER liberal party.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006
> Hey, *I* voted for the OTHER liberal party.

I never heard about the republican/conservative split until bush turned so pathetic. You guys are the same until it suits your agenda. So own it.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
"I never heard about the republican/conservative split until bush turned so pathetic. You guys are the same until it suits your agenda. So own it."

Who do you think voted for Ross Perot?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> Who do you think voted for Ross Perot?

A lot of different kinds of people. And where did they go after? Back to daddy.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
Mostly former republican people. Perot represented the type of conservatives Philo was talking about. He represented very few liberal values.... Think it was just a coincidence so many fewer republicans voted for Bush in 92 and Dole in 96 then they had before and have since?
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
then they had for other republican candidates that is.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> He represented very few liberal values

So he was against a 40 hour work week?

And liberal people don't want a balanced budget?

Liberal people don't want SS reform?

What crap.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
> look up "endogenous preferences"

If they're anything like "endogeneous morphines" I'm in.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 5th, 2006
*shrug* whatever SOP, he was trying to appeal to people who were unhappy with the democratic congress and president bush, our whole system basically. So yeah, he attracted some centrist democrats. But if you look at the voting patterns both times he ran, it was republicans he many more drew votes from, not democrats. The legacy continues in the current reform party, which falls much more on the right then on the left.
Permalink Phil 
January 5th, 2006
> But if you look at the voting patterns both times he
> ran, it was republicans he many more drew votes from

You are right. He drew from republicans, not conservatives.

But he also drew from a lot of other groups, including the whacko isolationists.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 5th, 2006
I've been saying (since before Bush ran for President) that the Republicans and the Democrats are basically the same party - all government, all the time. They just disagree on what order to take over issues.

Man, something weird in the air today - all the lefty whackos are storming out of the woodwork. [g,d,r]

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 5th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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